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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Feb 25, 2012 11:11 pm

• subdolous •

Pronunciation: sêb-dê-lês • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Sly, crafty, devious, surreptitiously deceptive.

Notes: Today's Good Word sleeps with others of its ilk beginning with sub- "under, beneath" and referring to suspicious behavior; I have in mind now words like: subterfuge, suspicious and sub rosa. The adverb for today's adjective is subdolously and the noun subdolousness is preferable to subdolosity.

In Play: Today's Good Word can refer to underhanded activities: "Prohibition failed due to the subdolous supply of alcohol the underworld imported and distributed almost at will." However, it is equally at home with innocence: "No one noticed that Winfred's hand had subdolously sought and found Emmanuel's beneath the table."

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Latin subdolus "sly, deceitful". The Latin preposition sub "under, below" was very similar to super "over, above", differing mostly in the -er suffix. In Greek, however, these two prepositions came out as hyper and hypo with an expectable replacement of [s] by [h]. We see these two words in English words like hypersensitive "oversensitive" and hypodermic, the needle that goes under the skin. Both the "over" and "under" word seem to have begun with [s], yet in the Germanic languages we find offspring like German über "over" and English over for super. Latin borrowed dolus from Greek dolos "trick, decoy". Greek must have inherited this word from Proto-Indo-European, because there are hints of it in the histories of other language, but nothing so substantial as could be reported. (The suggester of today's Good Word, however, is no mystery but the subdolous Mark Bailey, a Senior Lexiterian in the Alpha Agora.)
Last edited by Dr. Goodword on Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:29 pm, edited 3 times in total.
• The Good Dr. Goodword

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Postby Audiendus » Sat Mar 03, 2012 11:18 am

The following example of the use of subdolous may be of interest:
Last edited by Audiendus on Sun Mar 18, 2012 10:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Perry Lassiter
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Mar 03, 2012 12:05 pm

The "hy" in English is a transcription of the Greek "u" with a breath mark over it. Upsilon can be voiced or unvoiced, with or without the breath mark.

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