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simpatico

Printable Version Pronunciation: sim--ti-ko Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Congenial, likable, agreeable, pleasant, easy to get along with. 2. Of like mind, compatible.

Notes: Simpatico comes to us as is, that is to say, without a derivational family. Some have used a feminine form, simpatica, as do the Italians when referring to women. However, since English does not maintain gender any more, Italian words tend to be used in their base form, the masculine. Bimbo is another example. A bimbo can only refer to a girl in English. Italians call a boy a bimbo; a girl is a bimba.

In Play: Today's word has two meanings that are very close to each other: "congenial" and "compatible". You may not even want to make the distinction. If you do, here is how you use the word in its first sense: "Harry Wormser-Goode isn't very simpatico: always making snide remarks and sneering at his officemates' best efforts." Here is the other sense of the word: "Molly Coddle is pleasant enough but not very simpatico: she never goes out for a glass of wine with the girls or invites anyone from the office over to her place."

Word History: Today's Good Word is either Spanish or Italian simpatico "sympathy". Italian and Spanish inherited this word from Late Latin sympathia "sympathy", which, in turn, picked it up from Greek sympatheia "sympathy". The Greek word started out as a compound sympathes "affected by similar feelings", literally "feeling with" from syn "(together) with" + pathos "feeling, emotions". English borrowed pathos "a sense of pity or sympathy" directly from ancient Greek. Pathetikos, the adjective accompanying pathos, meant "capable of emotions". However, somewhere along the way from Greek to English pathetic the meaning shifted to "causing an emotional reaction" and, finally, to "causing pity". (Susan Ardith's contributions of such excellent Good Words as today's make her very simpatico with all of us here at alphaDictionary.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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