• regale •
Pronunciation: rê-gayl • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, transitive
Meaning: 1. To fete someone sumptuously, as to be regaled with a lavish party upon their return. 2. To entertain lavishly in a delightful way, even superfluously, as to be regaled with tales of adventures in Africa.
Notes: I once thought this word was related to regal, since it contained this word within and meant "entertain regally". But it isn't, as the Word History will show. We have two nouns for this word, the action noun regalement and the personal noun regaler. I suppose we could even imagine a perfectly legitimate word regalee meaning "the recipient of a regalement".
In Play: The sense of this word is usually related to food and a sumptuous table. "While his wife was away, Stu Beef regaled himself with all the greasy food he could find in the house." However, this word, as most words, finds more figurative uses than literal: "As they left the church, the bride and groom were regaled with enough rice that might have fed them for months." Brides and grooms are regaled with flowers or flower petals in some regions.
Word History: We came by today's Good Word from French régaler "to entertain, to feast", from Old French rigale. This word was made from the intensive prefix ri- + gale "merriment". Now, galer comes from gala "celebration", which also gave French galant, which we respelled gallant. Gala is generally taken as a Latinized version of Frankish wala- "good, well". (Frankish is an ancient Germanic language spoken between the 4th and 8th centuries in the low countries and adjacent regions of France.) This Germanic word is behind English well and wealth. In Latin it emerged as voluntus "will" from which we get voluntary and nolens-volens—which might explain the absence of an ancestor of regale in Latin. (Now is the time to regale Douglas Woodworth with our gratitude for his suggesting today's regal Good Word.)