• jostle •
Pronunciation: jah-sêl • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: 1. To shake by bumping, to stir up. 2. To compete for position, to vie for advantage. 3. (Intransitive) To move through a crowd by pushing and elbowing.
Notes: We have a little-used noun, jostlement, that comes with this verb. Otherwise, we use the present participle, jostling, for both noun and adjective. The personal noun, of course, is jostler.
In Play: To physically jostle someone is to shake them: "She arrived at the party late, when no one was really dancing, just jostling each other around the floor." But this word may be used metaphorically "No matter how Phyllis Glass tried to jostle her memory, she could not remember what his favorite drink was."
Word History: This word was originally a diminutive of joust, a joustle "a small joust", although we have no printed confirmation. 'Jousting for position' still refers to a more vigorous competition than 'jostling for position'. Joust was borrowed from Old French joster "to joust, tilt" from Vulgar Latin iuxtare "to approach, meet", originally "be next to" from iuxta "beside, very near", visible also in the English Latinate borrowing juxtapose. Latin inherited iuxta from a suffixed form of PIE root yeug- "to join", whence Greek zugon, Latin iugum, Sanskrit yugam, all meaning the same as their distant cousin, English yoke. Sanskrit yogah "union" was borrowed by all European languages as yoga, since its goal is to achieve a union of body and mind. (The time has come for me to jostle a thought of gratitude for our long-time friend William Hupy for suggesting yet another captivating Good Word.)