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coadjutor

Printable Version Pronunciation: ko-æ-jê-têr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. An assistant, a helper. 2. An assistant to a bishop designated to succeed the bishop.

Notes: A language often has several words meaning the same thing in different contexts; English is no exception. An assistant to a senator is an aide, a sheriff has a deputy, a governor and a mafia boss have their lieutenants, a general has an adjutant, and a bishop, his coadjutor. Of course, these words may be used outside their designated context and coadjutor is no exception. We may now use today's word to refer to any kind of assistant.

In Play: Today's Good Word is most closely associated with bishops: "The bishop's coadjutor resigned, impatient for the bishop to retire or otherwise pass away." However, its usage has now expanded beyond the pale of the Church: "Russell fired his coadjutor, whom he hired to succeed him, because of the tales the coadjutor was spreading about Russell's private life."

Word History: Today's Good Word in Middle English was coadjutour "assistant" from Latin coadiutor from co- (together) with + adiutor "aide". Adiutor is the personal noun from adiutare "to aid", a variant of adiuvare "to help". This word is made up of ad "(up) to" + iuvare "to help, give strength, support", from the same root that provided Latin iuvenis "a youth, young person". This is the root we see in the Latin borrowings rejuvenate, juvenile, and junior. Iuvenis shares a source with several words in other Indo-European languages, including Sanskrit yuva "young", Russian yunij "young, a youth", German jung, and English young. (We owe thanks to Dane Bounds for his assistance in locating and submitting today's interesting Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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