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expedition

Printable Version Pronunciation: ek-spê-di-shên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A journey undertaken for a specific purpose. 2. Speed and efficiency in performance, efficiently organized haste.

Notes: Today's Good Word is the noun from the verb expedite "to facilitate completion as quickly and efficiently as possible", in keeping with the second meaning above. The first meaning has wandered off on its own, however, and now has its own adjective, expeditionary, as in an expeditionary force or undertaking, and personal noun, expeditionist. The second meaning of today's word seems to be giving way to expeditiousness but both forms are still on active duty.

In Play: A connotation of expedition is that it is a journey that requires a great deal of preparation: "When you have five children every trip to grandma's is a major expedition." Although this word is used less often in its second sense, as mentioned above, it is still available for that duty, too: "Marvin, would you please clean up your room with as much expedition as possible; your father and I need to know if you still have a bed."

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed whole from Old French expédition. French inherited it from Latin expeditio(n) "military campaign". The noun was derived from the verb expedire "to prepare" which originally meant "walk out of (engagements)". We know this from its composition: ex "out of" + ped- "foot", the root of the English borrowed nouns pedal and pedestrian. In fact, English foot came from the same root, ped-/pod- with an "ablaut" vowel variation. The root of the Greek word for "foot" was pod-, from the O-variant of the root. We borrowed it, too, in words like podiatrist and tripod. (We hope that we have reached the point of thanking Susan Hays for suggesting today's Good Word with as much expedition as possible.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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