• invective •
Pronunciation: in-vek-tiv • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: An abusive or profane denunciation, castigation, a railing condemnation.
Notes: This Good Word is quite versatile: it may be used as a mass noun (to heap on invective) or a count noun (a speech filled with invectives). It is also an adjective: invective language. This word is the noun from the verb inveigh, as to inveigh against the injustices of the world.
In Play: Save today's good word for outrageous railing: "Rather than suggest measures to reduce tensions in the office, Donny Brooks unleashed a torrent of invective about plots and conspiracies to undermine his authority." This is how today's word is used as a mass noun; it may also be used as a countable one: "Dad treated us all with a sermon, bristling with invectives against rap music."
Word History: Latin invehi "to attack with words, inveigh against", the passive form of invehere "to carry in", is based on in "in" + vehere "to carry", whose root is visible in the Latin borrowing vehicle. The root of the Latin verb came from an earlier Proto-Indo-European root wegh- "to carry (in a vehicle)". The same root ended up little changed in English weigh, referring to the movement of something in a balance scale. The semantic connection is clearer in wagon, a means of carrying, way, and Latin via "way, road", where wagons travel. Vex came to us from the same root in Latin vexare [vek-s-are] "to agitate", and originally meant to set someone in motion. The English derivatives wag and wiggle reflect the same semantic connection.