• estimable •
Pronunciation: es-tê-mê-bêl • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Admirable, deserving of esteem, worth of respect, respected, valued. 2. Possible to estimate.
Notes: Occasionally, we bump into "passive adjectives", those ending in the suffix -able, made from verbs containing the suffix -ate without the suffix, e.g. alienable, calculable, educable. Today's Good Word belongs among these. The adverb is the expectable estimably and the noun, estimability or the clunkier estimableness.
In Play: The most widely used sense of estimable has wandered rather far off its semantic track: "Rhoda Book's estimable little tome, "How I Worked the System" is worthy of a serious read." The usually precedes this word when used with a person's name: "I found the estimable Al Falfa, a local farmer, out standing in his field."
Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Latin aestimatus "valued, esteemed", the past participle of aestimare, from an older form aestumare "to value, rate, esteem". English, pirate that it is on the high lexical seas, also borrowed the French version of the same word, estimer "to value", preserving the French pronunciation for esteem. The ultimate source may have been from Old Latin ais-temos "one who cuts copper", referring to someone in the Roman Republic who minted money. But the trail ends here on this questionable derivation. No evidence of it can be found in any other Indo-European language.