• disquisition •
Pronunciation: dis-kwê-zi-shên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A diligent investigation, a thorough piece of research. 2. An elaborate analytical essay or a detailed treatise on a research project.
Notes: Today's Good Word comes from a very old and distinguished family of words; so old, in fact, many are now long deceased. The verb underlying this word was disquire "investigate thoroughly". Some of its other offspring, living or not, are disquisitor, someone who carries out thorough research, and the adjectives disquisitive, disquisitory, and disquisitional. The only one of these my spellchecker likes is disquisition itself, but then my spellchecker is very young.
In Play: The original meaning of today's word refers to thorough research: "Before we purchase the accounting firm of Cook, Books & Hyde, Hadley, I would like you to conduct a disquisition of the company and its business practices." However, it is more often used to refer to long, detailed reports today: "Sterling, when I asked for a run-down of the team's weaknesses, I didn't want a disquisition on the history of football."
Word History: Today's is another word lifted from Latin. This time the victim is disquisitio(n) "investigation". This word is the noun from disquirere "to investigate", made up of dis- "separately, one by one" + quaerere "to seek, look for". The past participle of quaerere was at one time quaestus, the root of quaestio(n) "search, inquiry", and the source of English question. The reduced form of this root, quir-, is found in several English verbs, including inquire, require, and acquire. (The instigator of our little disquisition on disquisition today was Lew Jury, the source of many other very Good Words.)