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remorse

Printable Version Pronunciation: 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.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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