• vanquish •
Pronunciation: væn-kwish • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, transitive
Meaning: To defeat thoroughly in any sort of competition, especially war, to conquer, to rout.
Notes: The sense of today's word implies a total defeat from which the defeated will not soon recover. This verb comes with two nouns, vanquishing and vanquishment, neither of which is much used any more. We have two adjectives, one active (vanquishing) one passive (vanquishable).
In Play: Vanquish is most often applied to military confrontations: "The recent discovery of 1000 US troops in Niger indicates that ISIS is defeated but not vanquished." However, it may be employed for any conflict where completeness counts: "Once Blanch Dwight was elected to public office, she managed to control her stage fright, but she never quite vanquished it."
Word History: Today's Good Word was vaynquisshen in Middle English. English came by it from Old French vainquiss- a participial form of vainquir "to overcome, conquer". French inherited this verb from Latin vincere with the same meaning. Latin inherited the word from Proto-Indo-European weik- "to fight, conquer" with a Fickle N. This same root appears in many words English borrowed from French, including convince, invincible. Without the Fickle N, we find it in victor, borrowed directly from Latin, and evict, borrowed from French. (Lest we vanquish Jan Arps's appetite for recommending such excellent Good Words as today's, may we show her our appreciation now.)