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redress

Printable Version Pronunciation: re-dres Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To make amends, remedy, rectify. 2. To compensate, recompense.

Notes: Actually, this word can mean "dress again", but a hyphen is normally used to distinguish this sense from the other senses of the word: re-dress. Redress comes with at least three adjectives: redressable "that can be redressed", redressive, and redressing. We also have a personal noun, redresser, and, if we move the accent, the verb itself may be used as a noun redress [ree-dres].

In Play: Dictionaries give several meanings of today's Good Word, but they may be reduced to two. The first of these is "to rectify": "Eileen Wright ran for the senate in order to redress all the wrongs her father had done before her as senator from the same district." Today's word may also be used in the sense of compensation: "Ray Scane tried to redress with diamonds all the embarrassments he had caused his wife."

Word History: This Good Word comes from Old French redrecier "reform, restore, rebuild" (Modern French redresser), containing re- "again" + drecier "to straighten, arrange". Old French drecier "to arrange" came from Latin directus "directed", the past participle of dirigere "to direct". English obtained its word direct directly from the Latin participle. The verb dress has meant and still means "to place, arrange, put in order". The sense "to clothe" comes from the notion that we aren't somehow "in order" unless we are dressed. This verb sense then gave rise to the noun sense "personal attire", as in formal dress. The word finally ended up today referring predominantly to only one piece of attire worn by women. Quite a journey this word has made. (We could never redress the oversight of not thanking the mysterious Klimt for suggesting today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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