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Simpatico

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Simpatico

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed May 22, 2013 10:30 pm

• simpatico •


Pronunciation: sim--ti-ko • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Congenial, likable, agreeable, pleasant, easy to get along with. 2. Of like mind, compatible.

Notes: Simpatico comes to us as is, that is to say, without a derivational family. Some have used a feminine form, simpatica, as do the Italians when referring to women. However, since English does not maintain gender any more, Italian words tend to be used in their base form, the masculine. Bimbo is another example. A bimbo can only refer to a girl in English. Italians call a boy a bimbo; a girl is a bimba.

In Play: Today's word has two meanings that are very close to each other: "congenial" and "compatible". You may not even want to make the distinction. If you do, here is how you use the word in its first sense: "Harry Wormser-Goode isn't very simpatico: always making snide remarks and sneering at his officemates' best efforts." Here is the other sense of the word: "Molly Coddle is pleasant enough but not very simpatico: she never goes out for a glass of wine with the girls or invites anyone from the office over to her place."

Word History: Today's Good Word is either Spanish or Italian simpatico "sympathy". Italian and Spanish inherited this word from Late Latin sympathia "sympathy", which, in turn, picked it up from Greek sympatheia "sympathy". The Greek word started out as a compound sympathes "affected by similar feelings", literally "feeling with" from syn "(together) with" + pathos "feeling, emotions". English borrowed pathos "a sense of pity or sympathy" directly from ancient Greek. Pathetikos, the adjective accompanying pathos, meant "capable of emotions". However, somewhere along the way from Greek to English pathetic, the meaning shifted to "causing an emotional reaction" and, finally, to "causing pity". (Susan Ardith's contributions of such excellent Good Words as today's make her very simpatico with all of us here at alphaDictionary.)
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Re: Simpatico

Postby MTC » Thu May 23, 2013 8:45 pm

Goodwordians may be aware "simpatico" is also spelled "sympatico." Personally, I have always preferred "sympatico," but Bryan Garner, a dyed-in-the-wool prescriptivist and expert on English usage, contends "sympatico" is merely a misspelling of "simpatico." He has this to say on his blog:

Like “sympathy,” the adjective “sympatico” derives from the Greek word “sympatheia” (= sympathy). But “simpatico” (= mutually fond or understanding) came to English in the 19th century as a loanword from either Italian or Spanish — probably the former. In good English the word has always had the “sim-” spelling. Stumbling on the pattern of “sympathy,” writers often misspell the word...

(http://www.lawprose.org/blog/?p=592)

Because the word is so often spelled "sympatico," and because this spelling is recognized by at least two dictionaries, I believe it has a claim to legitimacy, Mr.Garner's stern pronouncements nothwithstanding.
Last edited by MTC on Fri May 24, 2013 4:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Simpatico

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu May 23, 2013 10:01 pm

This word reminds me of an Elliot Ness movie, or
Al Capone, for some reason.
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Re: Simpatico

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu May 23, 2013 11:25 pm

Luke, do you know the reason simpatico reminds you of an Elliot Ness movie, or Al Capone? I can't guess it. Ness and Capone were at the opposite end of the spectrum with no love lost between them.
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Re: Simpatico

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri May 24, 2013 11:45 am

Actually no. Perhaps I am imagining a conversation,
where Capone tells a henchman to get someone
over immediately because he is simpatico with Capone
on "this'a situation".
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Re: Simpatico

Postby MTC » Fri May 24, 2013 1:01 pm

If you Google "simpatico eliot ness al capone," Luke, you will catch a number of connections in English, Italian, and Spanish.
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Re: Simpatico

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri May 24, 2013 10:24 pm

everything you ever wanted to know and a lot you didn't.
Thanks spent about 30 mins there reading.
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