• iniquity •
Pronunciation: i-nik-wê-ti • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. Sin, wickedness, evil, gross immorality or injustice. 2. A sin, an act of gross immorality or injustice.
Notes: This word is completely discrete from uniquity "uniqueness" and inequity "unfairness". Careful not to confuse them. It comes with an adjective, iniquitous (iniquous is now considered archaic), which has an adverb, iniquitously.
In Play: Today's word occurs most notably in the idiomatic phrase 'den of iniquity': "Washington had become the greatest den of political iniquity in US history." It just as often appears alone: "Sarah asked her brother, 'But when does patience with iniquity become collusion?'"
Word History: Today's Good Word was lifted from Old French iniquité "wickedness", the French modification of Latin iniquitas "inequality, unevenness". Iniquitas is the qualitative noun from iniquus "unjust, unequal; uneven, slanting". This word is composed of in- "un-, not" + the combining form of aequus "level, even; just, equal", which is of unknown origin. The prefix in-, however, is well-known. It is often confused with in "in, on" on Latinate borrowings in English. But this is the negative prefix from the same source as English and German un- "without; reverse". It appears in Greek a(n)- "without", as in anorexia, from an- "without" + orexis "appetite". It comes from PIE ne "not", found unchanged in Russian ne "not" and ne- "not, without" and French ne "not". Latin and Italian non and English not all share the same source. (Today's gratitude is due our old friend William Hupy, Grand Panjandrum of a contributor over many, many years of suggesting equally outstanding Good Words as today's.)