Use this forum to discuss past Good Words.
User avatar
Dr. Goodword
Site Admin
Posts: 4562
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:28 am
Location: Lewisburg, PA


Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Jun 22, 2005 10:09 pm

• mufti •

Pronunciation: mêf-tee • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A Muslim legal advisor who writes fatwas, legal interpretations of the shari'a, the Islamic law. Fatwas are written for private clients and are generally binding in civil law but not in criminal cases. 2. Civilian clothes worn by someone who normally would wear a uniform.

Notes: This Good Word never adapted to its new language. It has remained very Arabic without bringing any of its relatives over except, perhaps, fatwa "Muslim legal opinion". The plural is a straightforward muftis.

In Play: Here in the West the second sense of today's word will probably prove the most useful: "Farkas didn't recognize his nurse of two weeks when he unexpectedly bumped into her in mufti at the movies." This word applies only to people who normally work in uniform, though any uniform will do: "Hardy Mehl was surprised to discover that Ronald McDonald is the same in mufti as not."

Word History: Today's Good Word is the Arabic word mufti "one who gives legal opinions", the active participle of ’afta "to decide by legal opinion". The Semitic root here is West Semitic *ptw "to advise", related to fatwa "legal opinion" itself, which comes from the same verb. In the 19th century mufti's were represented on the British stage by actors wearing dressing gowns and tasseled caps. This informal wear is thought to be the origin of the connection between the Muslim mufti and civilian clothes. (We are grateful to Peter McCrossin of Australia for the lexical opinion that today's word is worthy of close inspection.)
• The Good Dr. Goodword

Brazilian dude
Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 1464
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Botucatu - SP Brazil

Postby Brazilian dude » Wed Jun 22, 2005 10:29 pm

Today's Good Word is the Arabic word mufti "one who gives legal opinions", the active participle of ’afta "to decide by legal opinion".

And my students think English irregular verbs are hard. Try memorizing that one! :roll:

Brazilian dude
Languages rule!

Posts: 408
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2005 4:36 am

Postby Flaminius » Thu Jun 23, 2005 2:31 am

Maybe related to Hebrew pitui (persuasion)?

BD, welcome to the balagan conjugation of Semitic langauges. Where else can you expect that lehiwa`ets (to be advised) and yo`ets (adviser) are related [example taken from Hebrew]?


Posts: 405
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2005 7:46 am
Location: Sweden

Postby anders » Thu Jun 23, 2005 6:18 am

It would have been more correct to say that it is the active participle of the IV. form of the verb root ftw/fty.

I find no similar word in Bible Hebrew, but judging from for example al-fataH and the BH vowel name pataH, both from a root meaning 'open', a connection between Flam's word and the topical word seems probable.
Irren ist männlich

M. Henri Day
Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 1142
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 8:24 am
Location: Stockholm, SVERIGE

Postby M. Henri Day » Thu Jun 23, 2005 1:27 pm

I've always liked this word, without being able to say why, and Dr Goodward's etymology merely makes it the more enjoyable. I mean, it gives new meaning to the tired phrase of someone being in, or wearing mufti ! Consider expressions of the type : «He was wearing mufti and so he laid down the law». Why it makes a mere uniform, no matter the amount of braid, look paltry by comparison !...


Return to “Good Word Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 2 guests