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cordial

Printable Version Pronunciation: kor-jêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun

Meaning: 1. (Adjective) Warm and genuinely friendly, affectionate, heartfelt, sincere. 2. (Noun) A sweet fruit-flavored liqueur such as Amaretto, Grand Marnier, Kahlua, Lemoncello, Sambuca, often syrupy so as to mix well with water or another alcoholic beverage.

Notes: Today's Good Word is common enough to have picked up a derivational following. The noun is cordiality and the adverb, cordially. A verb, cordialize, has been tried on occasion but without enthusiasm since the suffix mars an otherwise lovely word. Actually, we may have two words today—an adjective and a noun. We are treating them as one, though, for reasons that will emerge in the Word History.

In Play: Cordials, the drink, are usually offered in an atmosphere of cordiality: "Why, thank you, Sam; it is quite cordial of you to offer me a cordial. I wouldn't mind a dram of Drambuie." Alcohol is not at all necessary for cordiality, though; just sincere congeniality: "I have heard that relations between Heather Fields and Pete Moss have become most cordial. Are wedding bells in their future?"

Word History: Today's Good Word originated in Latin cordialis "of or for the heart," from cor, cordis "heart", coeur today in French and corazón in Spanish. The root of this word, in fact, emerged in most of the Indo-European languages: German Herz, Welsh craidd, Russian serdce, Lithuanian sirdis, Greek kardia, Hittite kir, and Breton kreiz all come from the same root. The Slavic languages created a separate word from it: Serbian sreda "middle" and Russian sereda "center". Guess why. The original drinks called cordials were thought to be beneficial for the heart. The noun results from a shortening of a phrase similar to "cordial draught" or "cordial drink" back when cordial simply meant "of or for the heart". (Let us all offer a cordial word of thanks to Rob Towart for suggesting today's very pleasant Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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