• fetor •
fee-têr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A stench, an unpleasant or offensive odor.
Notes: You may correctly chide anyone you see spell this word foetor; the only correct spelling is fetor. This word is the noun from the adjective fetid ?smelly, stinky?, which may be used as an adverb, fetidly, should you ever need a word meaning "stinkily".
In Play: Sometimes we need a word meaning "stench" that is a bit more elevated, subtle: "Binky, what is the origin of the fetor emanating from your room?" It is more applicable to the discussion of elevated offices when used figuratively: "It may take some time for the fetor to dissipate from the Illinois governor's office, now that Blagojevich has departed."
Word History: Many dictionaries list foetor as an acceptable alternate spelling of today's Good Word. The Oxford English Dictionary, however, makes it clear that this is incorrect. It probably results from a confusion of this word and its adjective, fetid, with foetus, widely used in the United Kingdom. But these two words have nothing to do with each other; their similarity is purely coincidental. Fetus comes from a root meaning "to give birth, to grow" and meant "offspring" in Latin. The OE spelling was old even in Latin; by the classical period even this word was spelled with a simple E. (We wouldn't want to raise a fetor by forgetting to thank Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira, the Brazilian Dude at the Alpha Agora, for today's suggestions, so let me say, "Thank you," right here.)
Come visit our website at <http://www.alphadictionary.com> for more Good Words and other language resources!