• peremptory •
Pronunciation: pêr-emp-tê-ri • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Intolerant of debate or contradiction, overconfident, rudely dogmatic, forcefully assertive. 2. (Law) That precludes further question or debate, not open to appeal or challenge, final.
Notes: Today's Good Word comes with a predictable adverb, peremptorily, and noun, peremptoriness. It also has an archaic verb, peremptorize "to give peremptorily, to make peremptory or absolute".
In Play: In general speech this word often carries the implication of rudeness: "Mikey's mother told him in peremptory tones that he was grounded for a week for putting the toad down the neck of his sister's sweater." In court today's word refers to a move that cannot be challenged or appealed: "The defense had used six or its seven peremptory challenges and was afraid to use its last one."
Word History: This word entered English from Anglo-French peremptorie, a modest conversion of Middle French peremptoire, inherited from Latin peremptorius "destructive, decisive, final". This word was based on peremptor "destroyer", from perimpere "destroy, cut off", from per "through" + emere "to buy, purchase, to get". Per was a very successful preposition in Proto-Indo-European. It turned into English far, for, fore, and forth. In Greek it turned into protos "first, foremost" that shows up in borrowings proton and protein. Em- "take, get" was less productive. It shows up only in Latin, in words English borrowed like exempt and sample, a reduction of example from ex "out of" + em- "take, get" plus a diminutive suffix. (We now offer Rob Towart our peremptory gratitude for submitting today's Good Word for our series.)