• disport •
Pronunciation: di-sport • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. Diversion, amusement, recreation, entertainment. 2. Merriment, fun, a display of playfulness or frolic.
Notes: Today's Good Word can be used as a verb meaning "to entertain in a playful manner", as in "Squirrels are disporting themselves in the tree." The noun for this verb is disportment, which has about the same meaning as disport. If we were to omit the initial syllable, di-, we would be left with sport. That is exactly what our English-speaking ancestors did.
In Play: The first sense of today's word implies nothing beyond entertainment: "What sort of disport does this resort offer?" The second sense of today's Good Word, however, implies showing off: "The children disported themselves with silly games while they waited in the airport."
Word History: Today's Good Word descended from Anglo-French disporter "divert, amuse", literally "carry away" in the sense of English "get carried away". The word was inherited by French from the Latin dis-, a prefix indicating separation, + portare "to carry". The root of the verb porter turns up in many English words. A porter is someone who carries our bags and a port, from Latin portus "gate", is a way in to safety for ships carrying cargo and passengers. The original Proto-Indo-European word came down to English as fare "to get along", akin to German fahren "travel by vehicle". We find remnants of this word in farewell, warfare, and welfare, how well we are faring or getting along. (We hope that Ellen Adams's welfare is filled with happy disport, for 'twas she who submitted the suggestion today's Good Word.)