• propinquity •
Pronunciation: prê-ping-kwê-ti • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. Nearness or proximity in time or place. 2. Nearness in kinship or family relationship. 3. Similarity in nature.
Notes: Using today's Good Word runs the risk of a common error: confusing it with a similar-sounding word, propensity "an inclination, liking". Here is a sentence showing how the two words differ: "He has a propensity for overeating that is encouraged by his office's propinquity to a pastry shop." If nearby has begun to bore you, try the adjective of this word, propinquitous, to break the monotony, as a propinquitous pastry shop that challenges my will power each time I walk past.
In Play: Propinquity first and foremost refers to physical proximity: "The propinquity of Frieda's new office to that of her boss encumbered her propensity to leave work early." The propensity to leave work early is especially strong on Friday: "Work tends to diminish on Friday because of that day's propinquity to the weekend." Notice today's word also applies to chronological nearness.
Word History: Today's Good Word slipped into English via Old French from Latin propinquitas "nearness, vicinity" from the adjective, propinquus "near." Propinquus is built on prope "near," an adverb whose superlative degree is proximus "nearest". We see this form in the English words proximity and approximate. At the deepest level, prope comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *poro-/pero-, which also developed into several words meaning "first," including English first and Russian pervyi.
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