• pristine •
Pronunciation: pris-teen, pri-steen • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. In original condition, unused, unspoiled, untouched. 2. Supremely immaculate, without so much as a speck of dust.
Notes: Pristine refers to the ultimate in cleanliness: nothing can be cleaner than pristine. It originally referred to original state (see Word History), and a bit of that sense still haunts this word, "like new". The adverb is pristinely, and the noun is pristineness.
In Play: We most frequently use this word in referring to the ultimate in cleanliness: "I've never seen such a pristine kitchen as Prudence Pender's; she must work all day on it." It may also refer to the original state of a natural object such as a river or forest: "The sight of his new girlfriend made Matt Tremoni's heart beat like that of a lumber baron looking at a pristine forest."
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from the feminine form of French pristin, pristine. French inherited the word from Latin pristinus "former", a word based on an Old Latin preposition pri "before" + -tinus, a suffix used to convert adverbs and prepositions into adjectives. Another word with this suffix is crastinus "tomorrow's", which underlies English procrastinate, derived from cras "tomorrow". The same root pri underlies prime and the feminine name Priscilla. (We have Husain Mustafa to thank for suggesting today's pristinely Good Word.)