• sundry •
Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun
Meaning: 1. Several, more than a few. 2. Various, miscellaneous, diverse, not of the same kind.
Notes: This useful word may be used as a noun in the plural, sundries "miscellaneous items", often seen over dime stores in the past. For those unfamiliar with the dime store, they were also called 5-and-10 cent stores, stores where nothing cost more than 10 cents. The few that remain are called dollar stores today, offering fewer and fewer sundries as time teases prices higher.
In Play: This Good Word goes back to a root meaning "cut up", so it first referred to several different things: "Leticia, the reasons for leaving Phil Anders are far too sundry to enumerate in the course of a single day." It is used today, however, most often to refer to diverse, unrelated objects: "When Cedric's cigar ash ignited Reginald's tuxedo on the way to the cotillion, Cedric was sprayed with sundry epithets I cannot repeat in mixed company."
Word History: Today's Good Word is the adjective to a now defunct word, sunder "apart, separate". It only survives in asunder "apart, separate", which developed from the sundry phrases sunder occurred in: on sunder, in sunder, and so forth. Sunder also functioned as a verb meaning "to separate, to sever", as in 'a quarrel that sundered their relationship'. We find cognates throughout Germanic languages, including Dutch zonder "without", German sonderbar "special", absondern "to separate". But it goes back to Proto-Indo-European sen- "apart, separated, without", which shows up in Sanskrit sanutar "far away", Greek ater "without", Latin sine "without". (We thank William Tupy for recommending today's excellent Good Word and for the sundry ones that remain on our list.)
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