• officious •
Pronunciation: ê-fi-shês • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: You don't need an office to be officious. This word means: 1. High-handedly meddlesome, overly eager to offer services where they are neither needed nor wanted. 2. Eager to help, especially to carry out the duties of an office.
Notes: Today's word is a derivative of office that has strayed off course. Official and officer are two others. The adverb is officiously and the noun, officiousness. (Don't even think of officiosity.)
In Play: This Good Word continues our attempt to prepare the vocabularies of Americans for this year's political battles: "I am sick and tired of all the officious telephone calls from political campaigners trying to convince me to vote for their candidate." Although we don't need an office to be officious, we do find officiousness in offices: "Henrietta really didn't want to move to another office but she was rather officiously moved while on vacation."
Word History: Today's word originated in Latin officiosus "obliging, dutiful" from officium "office, duty". The word office goes back to an ancient pre-Latin compound of op- "work" + fic-. Fic- is a variant of fac- from facere "to make, to do", that is used after prefixes and the like. The F in fac- assimilated (copied itself over) the P of op-, resulting in offic-. Op- is the root of opus "work" whose plural is opera, a word that took on a radically different meaning when borrowed as an English musical term. (It is time again to thank the reviewers who check all the Good Words before they go out: Paul Ogden, Mary Jane Stoneburg, and Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira. Their diligence and perspicacity are greatly appreciated.)