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Jan 21, 2020
This week’s theme
Adjectives used postpositively

This week’s words
ad litem
errant
aforethought

errant
Feline-errant
Image: iridi66/Adobe

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

errant

PRONUNCIATION:
(ER-uhnt)

MEANING:
adjective:
1. Traveling, especially in search of adventure.
2. Erring, straying, or moving aimlessly.

ETYMOLOGY:
For 1: From Old French errer (to travel), from Latin iterare (to travel), from iter (road, trip).
For 2: From Old French errer (to err), from Latin errare (to wander or to err).
Earliest documented use: 1400s.

NOTES:
How in the world can a word have so many different meanings? Blame homographs, two different words having the same spelling (lead, the verb & lead, the metal). In the case of today’s word, two Latin words (iterare and errare) evolved into the Old French errer. This homographic confusion continued when the words traveled to English. As if this weren’t enough, the word errant has morphed into another word resulting in further confusion: arrant.
Only the first adjective form is used postpositively.

USAGE:
“For all my lady-errant escapades, I still hold the proprieties in respect.”
Robert Barr; The Charm of the Old World Romances; E-artnow; 2016.

See more usage examples of errant in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Walking is also an ambulation of mind. -Gretel Ehrlich, novelist, poet, and essayist (b. 21 Jan 1946)

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