• succor •
Pronunciation: sêk-êr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: Sympathetic assistance or help given in time of need.
Notes: Today's Good Word may be used freely as a verb: we may offer succor to someone or succor them. Someone who succors another may be called a succorer. No relation to succubus or succotash. Don't forget, when in the UK, this word is spelled succour.
In Play: Today's word means "aid" or "assistance" but with a hint of tenderness: "During my stay in the hospital, my wife Faye offered daily succor above and beyond the call of duty." It can also metaphorically apply to non-humans: "The rain brought welcome succor to Rose Bush's garden."
Word History: This Good Word comes from Italian soccorso, the remnant of the Latin past participle of succurrere "to run to the aid of". Succurrere came from sub "under" + currere "to run", in the sense of "run to the support of". The root of currere goes back to Proto-Indo-European kers-/kors- "run", which also went into the making of courier, current, corridor (even though we are not supposed to run in them). Finally, carpenter comes from this root. It goes back to Latin carpentum "a two-wheeled carriage" that apparently based on Gaulish carros "a wagon, car", the same word that gave us car. (Lest we have to give succor to Mark Bailey, let us give thanks to him for suggesting today's Good Word.)