• votary •
Pronunciation: vo-dêr-ee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: No, today's word does not refer to a polling booth (but see History). It has two meanings: 1. Someone who is bound by vows to a particular kind of life, as a monk or nun. 2. A person who is obsessed by something, a single-minded fanatic.
Notes: Notice that we used a [d] in the pronunciation of the T in this word. In most dialects of English, [t] becomes [d] between consonants. That is why it is often difficult to tell a good writer from a good rider even though the difference between them is great. Remember to replace the [y] with [ie] before the plural [s]: votaries. The adjective accompanying this word is votive, often heard in phrases like votive candles "candles commemorating vows" and votive prayers "prayers that are a part of vows".
In Play: This Good Word is most commonly associated with religion: "As a devout votary of Catholicism, Hadley felt that she had to send her children to the same St Mary's Academy that she attended." However, we may expand this word's meaning to cover obsessions: "To say that Jack Potts is greedy puts it too mildly; he is a votary of money."
Word History: Historically, this word is related to vote. Like vote, it comes from Latin votum, the neuter past participle of vovere "to vow". The same root emerged in Greek as euxe "vow, wish" and Sanskrit vaghat-"someone who offers a sacrifice". If it made it to English, today it is the verb to woo, from Old English wogian. (Today we thank one of the word fanatics of our Agora, Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira, Brazilian Dude, for suggesting this Good Word.)