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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Aug 25, 2006 10:41 pm

• importunate •

Pronunciation: im-por-chê-nêt or -tyê-nêt • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Insistently and urgently besetting someone with a request. 2. Troublesome, bothersome, frustrating, annoying; impertinent.

Notes: Today's Good Word has such a unique meaning that it cannot be replaced. It is the adjective of the verb importune "to beset anxiously and urgently with a request", as in "Could I importune you for the key to my office; someone seems to have changed the lock since Friday." Since we usually importune those we know only with important issues, we must be careful to differentiate today's word by its ending and the additional UN before it. The noun is a rather common and boring importunateness.

In Play: Children tend to be more importunate than adults: "When a 6-year-old comes to your desk with an importunate request to go to the restroom, it is best to honor the request." However, importunateness is not strictly a phenomenon of childhood: "Matilda, how importunate of you to ask for your paycheck while I'm doing my nails!"

Word History: Today's word was traced almost perfectly from French importuner "to importune" from Old French importun "inopportune", a word French inherited from Latin importunus "unsuitable, unfit, inconvenient". This Latin word is made up of in- "not" + portus "port, refuge", the source of English port (again, via French). The same root is found, of course, in opportune, which some etymologists believe underlies today's word, going back to Latin in + opportunus with a subsequent loss of the prefix op- in opportunus.
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Postby sluggo » Fri Aug 25, 2006 11:29 pm

I first heard this word used by, of all people, Spiro Agnew (as "importunities").

Just thought I'd throw that in... :mrgreen:
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Postby Palewriter » Sat Aug 26, 2006 1:11 am

sluggo wrote:I first heard this word used by, of all people, Spiro Agnew (as "importunities").

Just thought I'd throw that in... :mrgreen: was probably William Safire.

-- PW
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Postby skinem » Sat Aug 26, 2006 9:06 am

...or Ben Stein.
Spiro (or his writers) had a way with words..."Ultraliberalism today translates into a whimpering isolationism in foreign policy, a mulish obstructionism in domestic policy, and a pusillanimous pussyfooting on the critical issue of law and order."

"Yippies, Hippies, Yahoos, Black Panthers, lions and tigers alike -- I would swap the whole damn zoo for the kind of young Americans I saw in Vietnam."

"Some newspapers are fit only to line the bottom of bird cages."

"A spirit of national masochism prevails, encouraged by an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals."

"Freedom of speech is useless without freedom of thought. And I fear that the politics of protest is shutting out the process of thought, so necessary to rational discussion. We are faced with the Ten Commandments of Protest:
Thou Shalt Not Allow Thy Opponent to Speak.
Thou Shalt Not Set Forth a Program of Thine Own.
Thou Shalt Not Trust Anybody Over Thirty.
Thou Shalt Not Honor Thy Father or Thy Mother.
Thou Shalt Not Heed the Lessons of History.
Thou Shalt Not Write Anything Longer than a Slogan.
Thou Shalt Not Present a Negotiable Demand.
Thou Shalt Not Accept Any Establishment Idea.
Thou Shalt Not Revere Any but Totalitarian Heroes.
Thou Shalt Not Ask Forgiveness for Thy Trans-
gressions, Rather Thou Shalt Demand Amnesty for Them."

Probably his most famous--"nattering nabobs"--"In the United States today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism. They have formed their own 4–H Club—the “hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history.”

You pretty well knew where you stood with old Spiro!

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Postby Stargzer » Sat Aug 26, 2006 11:35 am

As we used to say, we had three kinds of News in Maryland: Good News, Bad News, and Agnews.

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Postby skinem » Sat Aug 26, 2006 11:59 am

Ha! I thought about you when I posted this...Wondered if you went through Agnew's time there.
Sounds like you did.

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Postby Bailey » Sat Aug 26, 2006 12:37 pm

The geezer never lets any mention of Agnew go by without comment. :D

mark amused Bailey

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