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genre

Printable Version Pronunciation: zhan-rê Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A category of artistic work (art, music, literature) distinguished by style, form, or content, as poetry, short stories, novels are genres of literature. 2. A class, type, or category of anything that is distinguished by particular features.

Notes: The trick in successfully employing today's Good Word in your conversations, of course, is pronouncing it correctly. If you know a little French, you're golden, but if you don't, follow our pronunciation advice above carefully. The plural is genres [zhan-rez] and, like any recent arrival from another language, genre has no derivational family as yet.

In Play: Genre is still most closely associated with the arts: "Enrico, is that old car you've been working on a means of transportation, or a new comic genre of junk-yard sculpture?" Despite its newness, though, today's word is already spreading outside the world of art: "Belle O'Donnaugh brought her own genre of management practices to the office of the president and we are all still adjusting to them."

Word History: Today's Good Word seems to be related to words like genus but it isn't pronounced like them (see Pronunciation). The reason is that genre was borrowed only recently from French (the late 18th century) and hasn't acquired an English pronunciation yet. This word comes ultimately from PIE gen- "give birth to", which is why we see it in gender, generate, and gene. In English we would expect the [g] to become [k] and it did as it became kin, king, and kind—all words referring to families. (We are happy to welcome Marie Geesa to our family of Good Word subscribers and thank her for the kindness of suggesting today's word for our genre of literature.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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