• paradigm •
Pronunciation: pæ-rê-daim • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A theoretical framework or model which includes several different theories all bound together by a set of shared assumptions. 2. A set of all the inflectional forms of a word presented as a grammatical category, e.g. a declension or conjugation. 3. A prime example, a pattern, as 'the company is a paradigm of small businesses'.
Notes: We have a caveat in this word: although the final syllable is pronounced like dime with a silent E, it is actually spelled digm with a silent G, because the clusters GM and GN (sign) are not permitted at the end of an English word. It is permitted with a following vowel, as in the adjective paradigmatic and the verb, paradigmatize.
In Play: Let's try the new sense of today's word first: "Lollapalooza, Louisiana, is the paradigm of a small-town community." The standard meaning is used mostly by scientists: "Seamus Allgood's theory of bird migrations falls outside the most widely accepted theoretical paradigm. He hopes to set a new paradigm."
Word History: This word was borrowed from Late Latin paradigma "pattern, example", borrowed from Greek paradeigma, the noun for paradeiknunai "to compare". This verb comprises two components, para "alongside" + deiknunai "to show". Greek inherited the root its verb from PIE deik/doik- "to show", which made it to Latin as dicere "to say". The root of this word appears in English borrowings from Latin-French in diction, predict, and others. English ditto is the past participle of Italian dire "to say" of the same source. Ditty "simple song" was borrowed by Middle English from Old French as dite "said" from dire "to say". Ditto. The original PIE word reached English directly through its Old Germanic connections as teach. (Thank you, Perry Lassiter, the paradigm of an Alpha Agora contributor, for recommending today's Good Word.)