• dint •
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: Means, stroke, strength
Notes: Though today's Good Word was once a noun in good standing, today its use is limited to the idiomatic phrase by dint of, which means "by means of, by a stroke of, on the strength of". It is an odd little word. It resembles dent but seems semantically unrelated. We will see in the Word History how they are related.
In Play: The meaning of today's word in its current restricted usage is is similar to the phrase by a stroke of, as in: "Robin Banks acquired his retirement savings by dint of good luck and poor police work." Today this phrase is a synonym of by means of: "Warren Peace finally won Dolly Salvador's affection by dint of immense patience."
Word History: Today's Good Word is a rarity, an authentic English word for which evidence outside English is difficult to find. The original meaning of English dint, also spelled dent, was "a blow or stroke of a weapon". By the middle of the 16th century, however, dent had taken on the sense of the mark left in metal by a blow. Dint then almost dropped from the language, except in phrases like "to take by dint (blow) of sword", meaning by force, by means of arms. From there it was but a short skip to today's meaning. (Today's Good Word came to us by dint of a note from Kiki Borges of Toronto, a new and welcome contributor.)
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