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A.Word.A.Day--papabile

Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

This week's theme: terms imported from other languages.

papabile (pa-PA-bi-lay), also papable adjective

Eligible or suitable to become a pope; fitted for high office.

[From Italian papabile (worthy to be pope), from papa (pope) + -bile, equivalent to -ble (able).]

Papabile can be used literally about those cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church who are regarded as suitable candidates for the papacy. By extension, the term can be applied to anybody aspiring to some exalted position, usually in government. It suggests not just that they are senior and capable enough but also that they have some aura of leadership. However, away from a Catholic context, the term seems a bit forced.

-Guest Wordsmith Philip Gooden (pgoodenATgooden.ndo.co.uk)

"If by the week's end Mr Hague does not seem papabile, his opinion-poll position could rapidly deteriorate." Bruce Anderson; Politics column; Spectator (London, UK); Sep 30, 2000.

X-Bonus

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. -James Madison, fourth US president (1751-1836)

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