• facility •
Pronunciation: fê-si-lê-tee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. Ease of doing something, a gift or talent, as to have a facility for acquiring foreign languages. 2. Something designed to accommodate an activity or make it easier to carry out, as medical facilities in a hospital or parking facilities in a city.
Notes: Today's word in its second sense is generally used in the plural, as reflected in the examples above. Remember to convert the [y] to [ie] before the -s: facilities. Other than that, we need to avoid confusing this word with faculty, an ability or power to do something, especially a mental capacity. Someone with a facility to learn language can learn new languages easily. Someone with a faculty for learning language simply has the ability; it may still be hard work for them.
In Play: Remember that facility has always been associated with ease of doing something: "Rocky Rhodes must be a trained contortionist; he seems to have a facility for sticking his foot in his mouth." Artifacts that make our life easier are also facilities: "We have a good library but the copying facilities in the building can't handle the demand when term papers fall due."
Word History: Today's Good Word came to us, via Old French, from Latin facilis "easy". The Latin word originated in PIE *dho-/dhe- which came directly down to English as do and is also found in deed, a thing done and doom. The PIE [dh] emerged in Latin as [f], giving facere "to make, to do". This root turns up in dozens of words aside from today's Good Word, such as fact and all the words ending with -fect, such as defect, perfect, and infect. In Greek it turns up in thesis "a placement or placing" from tithenai "to put".
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Dr. Goodword wrote:...
Other than that, we need to avoid confusing this word with faculty, an ability or power to do something, especially a mental capacity. Someone with a facility to learn language can learn new languages easily. Someone with a faculty for learning language simply has the ability; it may still be hard work for them.
So that's why the faculty has such difficulties !... On a more serious note, the phrase «facility to learn language» sounds odd to me ; in my own usage I have always restricted complements to «facility» to constructions of the type «in»/«for» + gerund (+ object), rather than «to» + infinitive (+ object). What do Dr G and fellow Agorists have to say on this matter ?...
- M. Henri Day
- Grand Panjandrum
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