• neighbor •
Pronunciation: nay-bêr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A person or place near some other person or place.
Notes: This is a common enough word with an interesting history. Don't forget to add a U if you are outside the US, where it is everywhere spelled neighbour. The area in which everyone or everything is nearby is called a neighborhood. We have an adjective, too, neighborly "friendly, kindly". This word works as well as an adverb, as to work together neighborly. Finally, the noun can be used as a verb: "The square neighbors the old town."
In Play: Neighbors are neighbors, relatives are relatives, and friends are friends. Many relationships are reflected in nouns like these: "Maynard smiled as he watched the wind blow the leaves from his back yard to his neighbor's." However, such relationships are subject to change: "The romance of Larry Lovett and Lorry Lovelace resulted from a snafu when a friend gave Larry Lorry's address instead of her neighbor's by mistake."
Word History: This word in Old English was nehegebur "neighbor" from neah "near" + gebur "dweller". The comparative of neah, was near and the superlative was niehst, which became Modern English next, as in next-door neighbor. In Middle English neah came to be spelled neigh, thence nigh, as in, "Evening is drawing nigh", though it remained neigh in today's Good Word. Gebur "dweller, farmer, countryman" was a derivative of bur "dwelling", which went on to become bower "small cottage, covered booth, arbor". Neighbor is a cognate of Dutch nabuur, German Nachbar, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish nabo, and Icelandic nábúi—all meaning "neighbor". (Let's all thank David McWethy, our neighbor in a neighboring bower in the Agora for recommending, in neighborly fashion, today's Good Word.)