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condign

Printable Version Pronunciation: kên-dain Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Earned, deserved, fitting, merited. 2. Deserving, worthy, equal to the reward or punishment given.

Notes: Today's Good Word has a substantial family, so it is surprising that we hear so little of any of them. Condignity is the noun, with a G that is pronounced. The G is not pronounced in condign and the I is pronounced long, like eye, whereas in condignity is it short, as in dignity. Help us get this family back in circulation. The adverb is simply condignly.

In Play: Condign may refer to a recipient: "When Derry Yare was in charge of the biology department's laboratory animals, he was the condign recipient of the Good Mousekeeping Award three years in a row." You may also turn this adjective around and apply it to what is received: "Derry's Good Mousekeeping award was condign recognition of his work among the cages."

Word History: No one has any idea where this word came from but this fact has never slowed Dr. Goodword before, so why would it today? It has assumed so many forms since its emergence in the 16th century, it would be difficult to track backwards: hobbard de hoy, hobberdy-hoy, habberdehoy, hobby de hoy,hobidehoy, ho-body hoy, or hobberdehoy. Its current shape associates it with hobble, a awkward or clumsy gait, and hoy "an awkward and clumsy person"—a word which got lost in the 17th century. So the most likely origin is the phrase hobbled hoy, which very few people could spell correctly over history.

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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