• otiose •
Pronunciation: o-tee-os • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Lazy, indolent. 2. Useless, of no use, ineffective, unfruitful, futile.
Notes: The day after Thanksgiving is a good day for today's Good Word. It is a day off some companies give their employees, so that they can have a long weekend with their families. It is a day when we can be indolent if not totally useless—guilt-free. This word comes with an adverb, otiosely, and a noun, otiosity.
In Play: Let's play with the first meaning of this Good Word first: "Gladys Friday is one of the most otiose people I know." So why is Gladys otiose? She spends her time otiosely surfing the Web when the boss is not looking. Here is another example, using the second meaning: "Arguing that the earth is flat is completely otiose."
Word History: Today's Good Word comes to us ultimately from Latin otiosus "having leisure or ease, not busy" based on otium "leisure". We do not know the origin of this word, but we find it in an odd place: negotiate. This word comes from negotiatus, the past participle of negotiari "conduct business", which comes from a noun, negotium "business". Apparently, the idea was that business was "non-leisure", for negotium is made up of the neg- in negative and negate + otium. (Well, Richard Schmeling certainly isn't otiose about words, for he suggested today's very mellow Good Word.)