• beleaguer •
Pronunciation: bê-lee-gêr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, transitive
Meaning: 1. Besiege, blockade, surround on all sides so as to prevent escape. 2. Inescapably beset by problems, harass, trouble.
Notes: Remember that today's Good Word incorporates the irrelevant word league and you should have no trouble spelling this word. The problem is, since it is totally irrelevant, you may have trouble recalling this league. Today's word comes with a personal and action noun, beleaguerer and beleaguerment, respectively. The adjective is beleaguering.
In Play: You might question whether the first sense of today's Good Word is relevant today. Well, it is: "I can't mow the lawn while the house is beleaguered by Girl Scouts!" However, the figurative sense is more often encountered. The wife's response to the assertion in the first example might be: "I am beleaguered by all the preparations for your office party tonight; can't you relieve me of this one problem?"
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from another Germanic language, Dutch belegeren "to besiege," from be- "around" + legeren "to camp". Legeren is derived from leger "bed, camp", related to German Lager "camp" and English lair. Dutch inherited this word from Proto-Germanic leg-raz-, based on the Proto-Indo-European word legh- "lie (down), lay". In fact legh- went into the making of these two English words. It crops up in several members of the Indo-European language family. In Russian it appears as lezhat' "to lie" and in German, as legen "to lay" and liegen "to lie". A camp in the past was seen as a safe place to lie down and rest. (Today I would like to offer the same gratitude as I showed yesterday to our major editors to Jeremy Busch, Slava as he is known in the Alpha Agora, for sending me corrections to my postings in the Agora.)