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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Jun 26, 2014 10:50 pm

• puissant •

Pronunciation: pwi-sênt • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: (Literary) Powerful, influential, mighty, potent.

Notes: Today's is a word you should use if you feel that French has not had a puissant enough influence on English. English has plenty of words with the same meaning. Like most English and semi-English words, it comes with an adverb, puissantly, and an abstract noun, puissance.

In Play: One place you might use this word is in talking to royalty: "May I present to you His Excellency the Most Puissant Duke of Stoking-on-Furnice." Otherwise, you might meet it in the literary endeavors of others, so why not try it yourself as in, "The puissant magic of words lured Lex to alphaDictionary."

Word History: Today's word belongs to French, puissant "powerful" which was in Old French poissant "powerful", the present participle of pooir "to be able". The Anglo-French version of this verb, pouair, was the source of English power. Old French pooir "to be able" descended from earlier podir—akin to Latin potis "powerful"—via Vulgar (street) Latin potere "to be powerful". English potent was borrowed from Latin poten(t)s "powerful", the present participle of potere. English possible, too, was borrowed from Latin possibilis via French. This word originated in Latin posse "to be able". All these forms go back to the Proto-Indo-European form poti- "powerful, lord". We see cognates in Sanskrit patih "master, husband" and Persian pasha "master, king". (We should now thank Berta Jean Manna, from whose puissant vocabulary today's Good Word sprang.)
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Re: Puissant

Postby call_copse » Fri Jun 27, 2014 6:48 am

Nice word, that I had seen but somehow never looked up. Not much use for it myself, but nice to know - presumably mainly used in pompous titles as suggested?

Also, presumably unrelated to pissant, an almost homonym / contronym.

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Re: Puissant

Postby David McWethy » Sat Jun 28, 2014 10:50 pm

I first heard the word used by Spiro Theodore Anagnostopoulos, to describe members of the liberal news media as the "puissant purveyors of public perfidity"; this was after he changed his Greek name to "Spiro T. Agnew".
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Re: Puissant

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Jul 05, 2014 12:22 am

I pretty much neg the word puissant. It is French and, as the woman in Caxton's discussion of eggs and English dialects of his day, "I have no French."
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Re: Puissant

Postby Slava » Sat Jul 05, 2014 12:54 am

It may come from French, but if it were still French it would be pronounced pwi-sahn, n'est-ce pas?
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Re: Puissant

Postby misterdoe » Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:57 pm

Slava wrote:It may come from French, but if it were still French it would be pronounced pwi-sahn, n'est-ce pas?

Before this discussion, I thought it was. :o

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