Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-du Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Fuss, bustle, uproar, action or activity. 2. Trouble, difficulty, hardship, hassle

Notes: Today's Good Word has probably survived because of William Shakespeare's marvelous comedy, Much Ado about Nothing. As the Word History shows, it is a dialectal variant of to-do, which is still more widely used in the English-speaking community: "There was a big to-do over at his house that required police intervention last night." The plural ados applies only to the second meaning.

In Play: Today's word also appears in a still popular clich, 'without further ado', meaning "without further ceremony". This clich, no doubt, also helps anchor today's word in our lexicon: "I hope we can get through my birthday with as little ado as possible." Keep in mind, however, this noun also serves to indicate someone going to a lot of trouble for some reason: "Miss De Bte was in the midst of her morning ados, forcing herself down the throat of a pair of jeans about two sizes too small for her."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from the phrase at do meaning "to do", once used among northern British dialects. The Old English preposition-particle at was borrowed from Old Norse and used with verbs to mark infinitives, as to is today. Further south, the noun with the same meaning was to-do, as in 'much to-do over nothing'. Do comes from the PIE root dho-/dhe- "to set, put". This same root turned up in ancient Greek as theka "receptacle (putting place)", found in apotheke "storehouse" from apo- "away" + theke. This word was borrowed by Latin, and English picked up the French version as apothecary. This same Latin word, apotheca, lost its initial A over time and after a few more changes became bodega "wineshop, grocery store" in Spanish and boutique in French. Here we can see how English's overindulgence in the vocabularies of other languages can provide it with multiple words from one and the same original.

Dr. Goodword,

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