• endeavor •
Pronunciation: en-de-vêr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive
Meaning: To try hard, attempt, to take pains, to make an effort.
Notes: Today's Good Word is spelt endeavour in Jolly Old, like labour and colour. This word was immortalized on the ship that carried Captain James Cook on his "voyage of discovery" around the globe in the late 1660s. This trip made such an impression on history that we placed her name on the fifth and final NASA space shuttle to be built. The verb may be used as a noun, as in, "His work was a monumental endeavor." An endeavor is an extraordinary attempt; any lesser attempt is just a try.
In Play: As viewers of the British mystery series Inspector Morse will know, the good inspector preferred to be called just "Morse", without revealing his Christian name. Toward the end of the series we learned why: his father was an admirer of Captain Cook and in his fervor had named his son, Endeavour. Remember that endeavor means "to try hard": "Susan Liddy-Gates endeavored to retrieve the money Hans Opp had taken from his clients in a Ponzi scheme, but failed to do so."
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from the French phrase se mettre en devoir de faire quelque chose "to make it one's duty to do something". Devoir came from Old French dever "duty, obligation", in turn from Latin debere "to owe". The neuter past participle of debere is debitum, which also served as a noun meaning "thing owed". English borrowed its terms debit and debt from this word, even while it was borrowing its French grandchildren. Debere originally meant "to deprive someone of something", because it came from Latin de- "away, un-" + habere "to have". (We shall endeavor now to offer Chris Berry the show of gratitude he so deserves for submitting today's extraordinarily Good Word through the Alpha Agora.)