• ubiquitous •
yu-bi-kwê-tês • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Present or available everywhere, omnipresent.
Notes: The English adverb everywhere doesn't have a corresponding adjective or noun despite the occasional need for one. You can't say things like "The
everywhere traffic light" or "I was struck by the everywhereness of the double-decker bus in London." Today's word and its noun fill this lacuna. The adverb is ubiquitously and ubiquity is the noun.
In Play: The past decade has seen a rash of technological inventions rise quickly to ubiquity: "The cell phone is becoming more and more ubiquitous throughout the world." Were it not for the ubiquity of the Internet, our efforts to put out the Good Word each day would come to naught.
Word History: Today's word is built on Latin ubi-que "everywhere", itself from ubi "where" + -que "and" + the adjective suffix, -ous. Latin ubi was originally the locative (place, location) case of Proto-Indo-European kwo- "what, who," kwo-bhi "at/to what", which became cubi in compounds like alicubi "somewhere". Hanging out with adverbs like ibi "there", ultimately led to cubi losing its initial [c] and becoming ubi. The same root, kwo-, became who in English after the shift of K to H. (For some reason English spells [hw] WH: where is pronounced [hwer].) Russian combined to "that" with kwo to produce kto "who". Latin pronouns beginning on qu- pronounced [kw-], such as quo "whither", quando "when", and qui "who", all share the same source.
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