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INCENTIVE

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INCENTIVE

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Dec 07, 2005 12:18 am

• incentive •

Pronunciation: in-sen-tiv • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Anything that encourages or motivates a particular kind of behavior, a positive inducement; the carrot, as opposed to the stick.

Notes: Today's Good Word recently appeared in a news article about Disney Corporation's attempt to incentivize Michael Eisner into being more creative. Incentivize is a new verb, created from today's word, that first appeared in the late 1960s. Here it seems to be a euphemism for "paying more money to", a connotation that seems to have stuck with this word.

In Play: While it may seem dubious that creativity can be bought, the fact of the matter is, incentives may take forms other than money: "Daisy offered her children dinner at McDonald's as an incentive to help her clean up the house." Incentives must be a positive inducement; however, positivity, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder: "The school's offer to allow the weaker chemistry students to use the lab on weekends proved to be less an incentive for improvement than was expected."

Word History: Incentive comes from Late Latin incentivus "singing a tune, inciting", from incinere "to sound off". This verb is made up of in-, an intensifier prefix + canere "to sing". The Latin stem can- also underlies the noun, carmen "song, poem" which, after French worked its magic on it, emerged as charme, a word we borrowed less the silent [e]. In the Germanic languages the same root came up as Hahn, still the German word for that fowl singer, the rooster. The feminine of this word, Henne, shares the same ancestor as English hen. (We hope that our writeup of today's Good Word will incentivize Mary Sanchez to send us more in future.)
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Re: INCENTIVE

Postby M. Henri Day » Wed Dec 07, 2005 2:37 pm

Dr. Goodword wrote:...

Incentive comes from Late Latin incentivus "singing a tune, inciting", from incinere "to sound off". This verb is made up of in-, an intensifier prefix + canere "to sing". The Latin stem can- also underlies the noun, carmen "song, poem" which, after French worked its magic on it, emerged as charme, a word we borrowed less the silent [e]. ...


Just goes to show how important song was (and is) to the development of human speech ! But please, Dr G, at least to some of us, neologisms like «incentivize» are a disincentive, if anything ! Can't you offer us incentives, instead ?...

Henri
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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Postby gailr » Fri Dec 09, 2005 1:03 am

It's no use, Henri, these words just keep cropping up everywhere. PBS is in the throes of alms-begging for another season, and one of the ultra-chipper personalities reeling off the pledge levels and accompanying "gifts" said that they should incentivize us to make that call now...

-gailr

alas, not quite incentivized enough yet...
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