Word of the Day

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

beneficence

[ buh-nef-uh-suhns ]

noun

the doing of good; active goodness or kindness; charity.

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What is the origin of beneficence?

Beneficence “active goodness or kindness; charity,” comes via French bénéficence from Latin beneficentia “kindness, kind treatment of others,” a derivative of the adjective beneficus “generous, liberal, kind.” Beneficus is a compound composed of the adverb and prefix bene, bene– “well,” a derivative of the adjective bonus “good” (and completely naturalized in English), and the combining form –ficus (English –fic) “making, producing” (as in honorific, pacific) a derivative of the all-purpose, overworked verb facere “to do, make, construct.” Beneficence entered English in the early 15th century.

how is beneficence used?

My general misery was alleviated by what felt like a measure of Victorian beneficence: I had the run of the house’s library.

Thomas Mallon, "Frenemies," The New Yorker, May 25, 2015

Better still would be the inculcation into all our moral considerations of beneficence as an internal good rather than an ethical calculation. Be good for goodness’ sake.

Michael Shermer, "Does the Philosophy of 'the Greatest Good for the Greatest Number' Have Any Merit?" Scientific American, May 1, 2018

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Monday, November 30, 2020

consequential

[ kon-si-kwen-shuhl ]

adjective

having important effects or results.

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Why we chose consequential

What is the origin of consequential?

Consequential “following as an effect or result; having important effects or results; self-important, pompous” is a derivation of consequence, from Latin consequentia “succession, sequence (of events), logical or necessary sequence,” ultimately a derivative of the verb consequī “to come or go after, follow, attend,” a compound of the prefix con-, a variant of com– “together, with,” and the simple verb sequī “to follow.” The sense “self-important, pompous” does not exist in Latin; it developed within English in the mid-18th century. Consequential entered English in the first half of the 17th century. Dictionary.com’s Word of the Year for 2020 is a consequential word for a consequential year. Think you know what it is? Find out!

how is consequential used?

The world is changed forever: No matter how deeply affected you are—medically, financially, emotionally, or otherwise—there is no going back. But the decisions we make about how to proceed now are extremely consequential, and the potential outcomes before us are vastly different.

James Hamblin, "Social Distance: Three Scenarios for How This Ends," The Atlantic, March 31, 2020

But in the middle of a pandemic, the most consequential of disaster decisions become complicated by fears of contagion.

Patricia Mazzei, "What Happens If a Hurricane Hits During the Pandemic?" New York Times, May 24, 2020

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Sunday, November 29, 2020

immemorial

[ im-uh-mawr-ee-uhl, -mohr- ]

adjective

extending back beyond memory, record, or knowledge.

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What is the origin of immemorial?

Immemorial “extending back beyond memory or knowledge” ultimately comes from the Medieval Latin adjective immemoriālis, equivalent to the Latin negative or privative prefix im-, a variant of –in, and (liber) memoriālis “record (book).” Immemorial entered English in the early 17th century.

how is immemorial used?

Practical foresters contend and can demonstrate that from time immemorial fire has been the salvation and preservation of our California sugar and white pine forests.

George L. Hoxie, "How Fire Helps Forestry," Sunset, August 1910

Perhaps the most esoteric of the European minority nations is the nation of Wales, Cymru in Welsh, which lives in the flank of England cherishing its own immemorial culture, squabbling and demanding more independence from the United Kingdom.

Jan Morris, "Druids for a Day, Bards Forever," Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2013

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