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Yesterday's Word



Feb 18, 2003
This week's theme
Words with interesting etymologies

This week's words

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Pronunciation RealAudio

erudite (ER-yoo-dyt) adjective


[From Middle English erudit, from Latin eruditus, from erudire (to instruct), from e- (ex-) + rudis (rude, untrained).]

A branch laden with fruit is closer to earth than one without. The same is true for people: the more the learning, the more humble one usually is. And it shows in the etymology of today's word. If you're erudite, literally, you've had rudeness taken out of you. Other words that share the same Latin root are rude and rudiment.

"Over the decades he (Roy Porter) spent at the Wellcome Institute, part of University College, London, he became legendary for his industriousness and for the generous, erudite and inspiring leadership that he provided to students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars.
Chandak Sengoopta; Books: A Stitch in Time; Independent (London), Dec 7, 2002.

"Ironically, the best way of preserving the forbidding flavor in Chinese might be to leave many words in English, since liberally sprinkling one's text with English is considered erudite in Chinese (it is a kind of Chinese counterpart to the way in which Art-Language borrows foreign terms like Gedankenexperiment and prima facie)."
Douglas R. Hofstadter; Le Ton Beau De Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language; Basic Books; 1997.


A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness. -Elsa Schiaparelli, fashion designer (1890-1973)

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