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Podcast ubiquity

Printable Version
Pronunciation: yu-bi-kwê-ti Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: The status of being common, found everywhere, not rare.

Notes: First, remember that this Good Word does not begin with Y even though you can hear this sound in the U. It has an adjective, ubiquitous, that is more ubiquitous than the noun. The adjective wears the adverb suffix -ly comfortably for things that pop up ubiquitously wherever you go.

In Play: The English adverb everywhere does not have a correlate adjective or noun, though we often need them. We speak of iPods that you see everywhere. Today's word and its adjective fills that lacuna nicely: "The ubiquity of iPods is a recent phenomenon that looks to last, perhaps forming a triumvirate with death and taxes."

Word History: Today's Good Word is built around the Latin compound adverb, ubi-que "everywhere", made up of ubi "where" + -que "and". Ubi started out in Proto-Indo-European, the language that most Indian and European languages developed from, as *kwo-bhi "where to?" This word became cubi in Latin but somewhere along the way the [k] sound was lost, leaving ubi "where?" The original *kwo turned out to be who in English but kto in Russian, two words that sound totally different today but 6000 years ago were the same word.

Dr. Goodword,

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