• vaunt •
Part of Speech: Verb, transitive
Meaning: To brag about or boast of pretentiously; to bluster about, to tout flamboyantly.
Notes: The Oxford English Dictionary now lists such gems as vauntful and vauntage as archaic, apparently, because no one uses them any more. I think we should. The only current derivatives are vaunter and vaunting, as to be annoyed by the vaunting of the vaunting young woman. Wouldn't you much prefer to be annoyed by the vauntage of the vauntful young woman? (These words are driving my spell-checker crazy but I love them.)
In Play: Today's Good Word is another slipping rapidly from our grasp. Now we hear only the past participle: "I just bought BrainSoft's much vaunted new game and, when I lost, it called me a jerk and shut down my computer." The verb, however, may still be used otherwise: "Eileen Wright vaunts the basketball skills of her son so much, you have to wonder why he spends so much time on the bench." Little remembered fact: Today's Good Word once was an interjection meaning "Scram!" or "Take off!" Still, the expression, "Vaunt, you churlish cur!" (Scram, you sleezy dog!), would be understood by any real fan of Shakespeare.
Word History: Today's word comes from Latin vanitare "to chatter about nothing" via Old French vanter. The Latin verb is a variant of vanare "to talk emptily" from vanus "empty", also the root of vanitas "emptiness", whence English vanity. Vanus is the source of English vain. The original root meant "to leave, abandon, give out", which came to Old English as wanian "to lessen" and to Modern English as wane, want "to lack", and wanton. The last word here was wantowen in Middle English, from want- "lacking" + towen, the past participle of teen "to bring up". So, the original sense of wanton was "lacking up-bringing".
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