• agenda •
Pronunciation: ê-jen-dê • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A list of items scheduled for discussion at a meeting. 2. A mental list of tasks someone intends to undertake. 3. Underlying secret intentions.
Notes: Unlike data and media, this Latin plural has been completely assimilated by English as a singular noun. We know this because everyone pluralizes it as agendas, whereas no one says datas or medias. Nor does anyone ever use the Latin singular, agendum.
In Play: Agenda is most often used in relation to meetings: "The agendas of our city council are not announced until the meetings are held." However, it is often used figuratively to refer to something secretive on someone's mind: "Marian Kine accepted Phil Anders's invitation to the concert, even though she suspected he had a hidden agenda."
Word History: Today's Good Word is the plural of Latin agendum "thing to be done", the neuter gerund of agere "to do, to move". It was originally posited in opposition to credendum "thing to be believed, matter of faith". The present participle of agere is agen(t)s "doing", source of English agent. The past participle of this verb is actus "done", which English borrowed for its act. The root of agere came from PIE ag- "to move, drive", which also produced Greek agein "to lead, bring, carry", agon "race, contest", agnia "steet", and axios "worthy (weighing as much)". The shift of meaning to "weighing" resulted from the use of ag- to refer to movement, particularly the swinging that was involved with old scales. (The next thing on my agenda is a word of thanks for our long-time contributor David Myer of the Agora for today's peculiar Good Word.)