• fiduciary •
Pronunciation: fê-dush-i-er-i • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. Related to trust, managing something entrusted to you, especially money. 2. Of or related to a trust, a trustee or trusteeship, as a fiduciary institution that manages financial assets. 3. Dependent on public trust or securities for value, as a fiduciary issue of currency.
Notes: We so closely associate this word with financial trust that we may think it can only be used in relation to financial matters. Though rare, it may refer to almost any other kind of trust, as a fiduciary responsibility for the papers of a statesman. A person holding fiduciary responsibility is him- or herself a fiduciary; the adjective may be used as a noun. The adverb is fiduciarily.
In Play: Events on Wall Street from 2008-2009 may leave us to wonder if anyone is left up there with a sense of fiduciary responsibility. Further down the food chain it is still alive and well: "Grandmother left her Lamborghini to me in her will with a fiduciary testament naming my father as trustee of the key until I'm 26." Since the US stopped backing its currency with gold in 1971, US currency has been fiduciary, dependant on the trust of those who use it to maintain its value.
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Latin fiducia "trust, confidence." This word is based on fides "faith, trust," the source of Fido, the default name of a good and trusting friend, our dog. The root also appears in fidelis "faithful", part of the US Marine Corps motto semper fidelis "always faithful". The original Proto-Indo-European root was bheidh- "to believe, trust", which came directly to English as bide "to await, to expect," as 'to bide one's time', as well as abide "to tolerate." (We are happy that Rachel Livingstone had the fiduciary confidence in us to send us today's very Good Word.)