• antic •
Pronunciation: æn-tik • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. (Adjective; archaic) Grotesque, bizarre, ludicrously odd. 2. (Noun) A whimsical or foolish act, silly action, prank, monkeyshine, shenanigan.
Notes: Today's Good Word is seldom heard in the singular, so seldom that the online Oxford Living Dictionaries only list it in the plural. It is a lexical orphan that may be used as a verb meaning "to perform antics". If you use it as a verb, remember to add a K before any suffix: anticked, anticking.
In Play: This word almost never appears in the singular: "Hank Epanki's antics at the party led Forsythia to leave without him." However, it does have a singular: "Tom Foolery's placing a tack in Susan's office chair was an antic he would live to regret."
Word History: Today's Good Word was spelled variously as antick, antyke, antique in Old English, when it meant "grotesque or comical gesture". It was apparently borrowed from Italian antico "antique", the French version of which English borrowed as antique. The Italian word antico was used to describe grotesque designs on some ancient Roman artifacts and murals, hence the sense of bizarreness that was later extended to "any bizarre thing or behavior", the sense in which English borrowed antico. Both Italian and French inherited their words from Latin antiquus "old, former, ancient". The Latin word was based on the PIE word ant- "front, forehead" that went on to mean "before" in inherited words: ante, the bet in poker before the draw, comes from Latin ante "before". English uses it as a prefix in words like antecedent, antebellum, and antepenultimate. (It's time to thank our old friend Iain Smallwood for suggesting today's fascinating Good Word.)