• veteran •
Pronunciation: ve-dê-rên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A person with long service in some capacity, as a veteran salesman at the department store. 2. Someone who has served for any period in the Armed Services.
Notes: Today's Good Word may be used as an adjective with the same meaning as the noun, as in veteran salesman. This word does have a distant cousin, though, another adjective, inveterate "long-standing, established". Try to pronounce both the Es in veteran. Dropping unaccented vowels (syncope) is a process that occurs naturally in fast speech. Most English speakers tend to drop the second E and pronounce this word [vetrên]. Down South in the US, however, we often miss the A and pronounce it [vetêrn]. Nonetheless, at alphaDictionary we like to encourage careful, thoughtful speech, which tends to flow more slowly.
In Play: November 11 is Veterans Day, a national and state holiday in the US celebrating all those who have served in the military services. Veterans Day in the US was originally Armistice Day, celebrating the armistice (truce) ending World War I. It was signed at 11 AM on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Armistice Day commenced on the same day in 1919. In 1954 President Eisenhower signed the bill that made November 11 (or the nearest Monday) officially Veterans Day, a day to celebrate the sacrifices of veterans of all wars in which the US participated.
Word History: Today's Good Word is a descendant of the Proto-Indo-European root wet- "year" or "many years". The meaning is unclear because Latin vitellus "calf" (English veal today) seems to have originally meant "yearling". However, vetus in the same language meant "old", and it is this root we see in veteran. Wether "gelded ram", an English word kept alive in bellwether, also comes from wet-. This word originally referred to the lead sheep in a herd that carried a bell about its neck for quick reference. (A gelded ram was chosen since he was more likely to stay ahead of the ewes.)