• drastic •
Pronunciation: dræs-tik • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Extreme in effect, severe, radical, harsh, sharp, draconian. 2. Violent, powerful, fast-acting (medicine).
Notes: This word comes with an adverb, drastically. Apparently, no one has ever found a use for a quality noun from it; neither drasticity nor even drasticness show up in a Web search. The word itself may be used as a countable noun meaning "a severe purgative".
In Play: The most frequent word drastic is associated with is measure: "The recent drop in revenue aroused drastic measures taken in the marketing department." This word usually implies bad changes, seldom good ones: "The president made drastic changes in all departments of the government."
Word History: This Good Word was heisted from the Latin version of Ancient Greek drastikos "active, efficient", the adjective derived from drasis "strength, efficacy"), itself from dran "to do". Greek drama "action, deed, acting, play" is also based on this verb. Latin borrowed this word, too, and narrowed its meaning to just "drama". No one seems to know how dran made its way into ancient Greek, so the trail abruptly ends here. It was passed on to all Romance (Latinate) languages in such forms as French drastique, Italian drastico, and Portuguese and Spanish drástico. (David Myer suggested today's fascinating Good Word, the latest in a series of them contributed over the past decade.)