• litigious •
Pronunciation: li-ti-jês • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Inclined to sue for the slightest reason. 2. Related to suing and law suits.
Notes: Today's Good Word, as you might expect in the language of a litigious nation like the US, is replete with a very large family. The adverb is litigiously and the noun, litigiousness. They all come, of course, from the verb litigate, the father of another noun, litigation "suing, suit". Those involved in litigation are litigants while their lawyers are litigators. If you have a case that will stand up in court, it is litigable.
In Play: When you consider that 70% of the world's lawyers practice in the US, among only 5% of the earth's population, you can see where the reputation for litigiousness comes from: "I wouldn't want to quarrel with her; she is so litigious, I always order the same thing she does when we go out to lunch." What does litigation cost the US? About $300 billion a year: "They had worked out an amiable divorce settlement but one of them hired a litigious lawyer and they ended up with $50,000 in legal fees and court costs."
Word History: Today's word is thinly disguised Latin litigiosus "quarrelsome," the adjective of litigium "quarrel, dispute", the noun from litigare "to quarrel." Litigare is a compound of lit- "lawsuit" + ager "to act, do," the root underlying agent and act. Of course, you already know that squat comes from this same root via Old French esquatir "to crush, squeeze out," combining es- "out" (Latin ex-) + quatir "to flatten." Quatir descended from coactus, the past participle of Latin coager "to compress". This verb is made up of co "together" plus the same verb mentioned above, ager "to act, do." (We never quarrel with Katy Brezger's choice of words. We thank her for suggesting yesterday's and today's Good Words.)