• intrepid •
Pronunciation: in-tre-pid • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Absolutely fearless.
Notes: Today's Good Word is the negation of trepid "timid, fearful", a word we hear less often (Mickey is a trepid little mouse). The noun intrepidity sounds a little odd, so you might prefer intrepidness for the nominal. Intrepidly, of course, works for the adverb.
In Play: Today's word refers to such a steely fearlessness that no fewer than four US naval ships have received it as a name since 1804. The last, an aircraft carrier, is now a sea museum in New York. Now that we know the level of fearlessness implied by this word, we can understand such claims as this: "I didn't know how intrepid parents had to be until I escorted my three children through their teens." You may also use this adjective as a noun: "Only the intrepid (or superrich) dare take their kids into china shops."
Word History: Today's Good Word was copied from the French descendant of Latin intrepidus "calm". It is based on in- "not" + trepidus "anxious, fearful". Trepidus was derived from the verb trepidare "to hurry anxiously", based on an ancient root meaning "to shake, tremble". We find a cousin in Russian trepetat' "to flutter, tremble", but in Sanskrit it turns up as trprah "hasty". The same root appears in trepidation. There is probably an earlier connection with tremulare "to tremble", origin of English tremble, but no one seems sure. (Today we thank Susan Lister, may she rest in peach, for being so intrepid as to suggest this Good Word for our series.)