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Dec 24, 2012
This week's theme
Words from various languages that built the English language

This week's words
behoove
ugsome
abjure
purlieu
cumshaw

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

If the English language were a cake, its batter would have Germanic flour. Sugar, butter, and milk would be of Norse, French, and Latin origins, not necessarily in that order. And on top of that would be icing with little flourishes here and there made up of dozens of languages -- Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Hindi, and others -- it has borrowed from.

Of course, that's the simplified view you might see on a Martha Stewart cooking show. The recipe for the making of the English language takes hundreds of ingredients, thousands of years of messy hodgepodge, and it goes on forever -- it's still in the oven. A language is never finished, unless it's a dead language.

Here's a very brief biography of the English language. The 5th century brought Germanic tribes to Britain, pushing away Celtic speakers; in the 9th century it was the Vikings with their Norse; in the year 1066, French became paramount with William the Conqueror. Latin came over from academia and religion in fits and starts at various times throughout. Later, colonization, trade, and exploration brought words from dozens of languages, Hindi, Chinese, Japanese, and others into the English language.

This week we'll feature five words to illustrate this mix of ingredients of the English language with words from Old English (Anglo-Saxon), Old Norse, Latin, French, and Chinese.

behoove

PRONUNCIATION:
((bi-HOOV)

MEANING:
verb tr., intr.: To be necessary, worthwhile, or appropriate.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Old English behofian (to need), from behof (profit, need). Earliest documented use: around 890.

USAGE:
"And it will behoove you to keep my visit and our secret to yourself."
Brenda Jackson; A Silken Thread; Kimani Press; 2011.

"It may behoove Google to take these suits to trial in order to clarify a principle."
Old Media Sue; The Economist (London, UK); Mar 14, 2007.

See more usage examples of behoove in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Anger as soon as fed is dead- / 'Tis starving makes it fat. -Emily Dickinson, poet (1830-1886)

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