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apologist

Printable Version Pronunciation: ê-pah-lê-jist Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Someone who argues in defense or justification of something, as in, "She is an avid apologist for capital punishment."

Notes: Don't confuse apologist with apologizer. Today's Good Word is the personal noun from the abstract noun apologia, not apology. An apology is an expression of regret for a wrong. An apologia is a written or verbal defense or justification for something. You may use apology in the same sense as apologia—and apologize has the same two meanings. But we advise that you keep the main senses of these two words discrete: apologist with apologia, and apologizer with apology.

In Play: An apologia can be simply an explanation: "Dutch Masters is a staunch apologist for the commercial sale of marijuana." It can also be a defense against criticism of something: "Nick O'Lodian has to be the world's foremost apologist for accordion music."

Word History: Today's word is based on Latin apologia, from Greek apologia, comprising apo "(away) from" + logos "word, discourse, thought" + -ia, a noun suffix. Apo was a Proto-Indo-European preposition that meant "(away) from, off (of)". Greek apo retains all the original sounds and meaning, but Latin ab "(away) from" shows some erosion of the original. English polished it even more to produce of and off. Logos goes back to PIE log-/leg- "to gather, to speak". In Greek logos meant "word, discourse, thought". It underlies a group of Greek words English helped itself to, including logic, analogy, today's word, and the names of all our sciences, such as biology, enology, and pathology. (George Kovacs, who recommended today's Good Word, needs no apologia for his vocabulary, which is large and growing.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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