• abecedarian •
Pronunciation: ay-bee-see-der-ri-ên or ay-bi-si-der-ri-ên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Alphabetical, arranged in alphabetical order. 2. Related to alphabets. 3. Elementary, rudimentary, simple.
Notes: Another word for "alphabet" is abecedary, and today's Good Word is the adjective made from that noun. However, this word has taken on a new meaning, "rudimentary", since the alphabet is rudimentary to written language. This adjective may be used as a noun meaning "novice", as 'an abecedarian at plumbing'.
In Play: Today's word is often used to refer to poems whose lines begin with letters arranged in alphabetical order: "Jacob's abecedarian poetical structure forced him into too many corners and, as a result, the poem suffers from it." However, it is also often used as a synonym of rudimentary: "Pat Agonia explained cold fusion in abecedarian terms that everyone understood."
Word History: Abecedarian, as mentioned before, is based on abecedary borrowed, via French, from Latin abcedarium "alphabet". Latin also had another word for "alphabet", alphabetum, based on the names of the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha and beta. English borrowed that one, too, and seems to have preferred it. (Today's Good Word comes from someone who is no abecedarian of a contributor, our old friend Sue Good of Westtown School in West Chester, Pennsylvania.)