Printable Version
Pronunciation: æn-ê-mah-sê-ti Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Bitter hostility, deep-seated hatred toward someone or something.

Notes: Today's Good Word is no longer semantically related to the adjective it was historically derived from, animous (see Word History). The result is that it is now a lexical orphan, a word without a family of derivationally related words. It is a near synonym of the noun animus "motivating spirit, disposition", especially a hostile spirit, as an animus behind a policy (nonhostile) or an animus against a policy (hostile).

In Play: Animosity is often harbored rather than born or carried. "I hope Seamus Allgood doesn't think my letting the air out of his tires is an indication of any animosity I harbor toward him; it was just a joke." Although this word began its life as a mass noun with no plural form or meaning, today it is often used in the plural: "Animosities ran high for a while after Izzy Badenoff defeated Dwight Mann in recent local elections."

Word History: Today's Good Word is the noun based on a by-now rare adjective, animous, which originally meant "high-spirited, courageous", but drifted into "hot-tempered" by the 18th century. Both words originated in Latin, as animositas "courage", the noun from the adjective animosus "bold". At the bottom of both these words is Latin animus "soul, spirit", source of English animal. The root animus was derived from Proto-Indo-European ane- "to blow, to breathe", also found in Greek anemos "wind", the source of the name of the anemone flower. (The sea anemone took its name from the flower.) Our ancient ancestors often associated breath with the soul, since breath takes on a misty, ghostly shape in cold weather. (Not only do we harbor no animosity toward Barbara Kelly for suggesting today's Good Word, we offer her our heartfelt gratitude.)

Dr. Goodword,

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