• remorse •
rê-mors • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass
Meaning: A deep sense of regret, compunction, an embarrassment deriving from guilt combined with repentance.
Notes: Today's word comes with a healthy happy family of derivations, all bearing clear resemblances to their father. The adjective is remorseful, making the adverb remorsefully. There is even another noun, remorsefulness, with a near identical meaning.
In Play: Remorse is the deepest kind of regret: "I could not eat a whole box of chocolates without feeling remorse for the rest of my life." Although it is often used as a simple synonym for regret, it shouldn't be: "Wally felt such deep remorse for putting the frog in the water cooler that he gave up drinking water at the office altogether."
Word History: Today's Good Word was taken from Old French remors (currently remords). French inherited this word from remorsum, the neuter past participle of Latin remordere "to torment", a verb comprising re- "back, again" + mordere "to bite". The descendants of mordere remain today in French modre, Portuguese and Spanish morder and unchanged (mordere) in Italian. The root of this word, mord-/merd-, originally meant "to bite, chew" and is found in many words borrowed from Latin that are distantly related to this meaning: mordacious, mordant "biting, sarcastic", mortar (and pestle), morsel. The root is probably related to mort-/mert- "die, kill", underlying such borrowings as mortuary, mortal, and mortify. (We do not feel the slightest twinge of remorse in thanking Stan Davis for suggesting today's sad but Good Word.)
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