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Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Jan 16, 2012 12:23 am

• innocent •

Pronunciation: in-ê-sênt • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Uncorrupted by evil, sinless, guileless. 2. Not guilty of a specific crime, legally blameless. 3. Utterly lacking, deprived of, devoid of.

Notes: Innocent is a common enough word, but we hope today's Good Word expands your appreciation of it. First, it may be used as a noun: an innocent is an inexperienced person, especially a child. The quality noun is innocence, that which characterizes an innocent. The adverb is innocently. Its more distant relatives may be found in the Word History.

In Play: Today's Good Word is used today mostly in the courtroom: "Cody Fendant couldn't say he and his brother were innocent of killing his parents, so he asked the court for mercy because they were orphans." But I love this word for its metaphorical sense: "Sally Forth had just come to New York from a farm and, totally innocent of ways of a big city, bought the Brooklyn Bridge at a very reasonable price."

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Old French, which inherited it from Latin innocent(s) "not harming", made up of the negative prefix in-, "not" + nocen(t)s "harming", the present participle of nocere "to harm, to hurt". The Proto-Indo-European word that gave us the root of nocere meant "death". It has kept this meaning in necrosis "death of tissue" (a medical term) and necromancy, the practice of communicating with the dead. The meaning noxious had already been reduced to "harmful, harming" by the time it had reached Latin, where English picked it up. So, what is the connection between nectarine and death? Nectarine originally meant "sweet as nectar". Before that, nectar meant "food of the Gods". Huh?! Well, nectar was once a compound comprising nek- "death" + tar- "overcoming". (We are not innocent of gratitude to Daniel Whelan for suggesting today's Good Word: Thanks, Daniel.)
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Jan 16, 2012 12:38 pm

A number of Roman Popes were names "Innocent".
I wonder why, or if it was because they thought
they were. Maybe honoring the Christ whom they
served, who was considered "innocent" of all sin.
It would be interesting to know why some kings,
popes and their ilk took the names they did.
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Postby bamaboy56 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:00 am

I'm by no means an expert on the subject, but I always thought popes choose their names after a saint or trait they wish to emulate. There have been several "Innocents" as well as a bunch named "Pius" (Pious?). Most are named after apostles, a saint or the order they belonged to. Just something I've noticed.
Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I'm going to change myself. -- Rumi
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:39 pm

Makes a lot of sense. I know there were lots of
Pius', but growing up with one of that name on
the news so often, I'd not given much thought
to the virtue they wish to emulate. Good thought.
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