• appellation •
æp-pê-lay-shên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A name, title, or other designation by which someone or something is called or identified.
Notes: Today's Good Word often trips up spellers because of its double double letters: two Ps and two Ls. In this respect it is like accommodate and millennium. Be careful. Its adjective is appellative "related to names or naming", as an appellative process. This word is related to appeal and, consequently, to appellate as in appellate court in ways discussed in today's Word History.
In Play: Today's word is better than simple name when you wish to point out that a name carries some special meaning: "I am afraid that Prudence is a captive of her own appellation, never driving over 50 miles per hour." This term is often applied to product names, especially wines: "Well, this wine may contain 'Pinot noir' in its appellation, but if you drink it, you may pinot more."
Word History: In Middle English today's Good Word was appelacion, borrowed from Old French apelacion, which descended from Latin appellatio(n). Appellatio(n) is a noun based on appellatus, the past participle of appellare "to drive to, push toward, appeal". This word is composed of an assimilated form of ad "(up) to" + pellere "to strike, push", handed down from PIE pel-/pol- "to beat, strike, drive". Since the Germanic languages converted [p] to [f], we find felt in English from Proto-Germanic felt- "beat, beaten", for felt is a cloth that isn't woven, but compressed, beaten. Latin borrowed this word from some Germanic language because the Romans used felt for filtering liquids, hence Latin filtrum "filter". Filtrum was filtre by the time it reached French when English borrowed it. Latin also used the O-variant for polire "to polish". You can guess the rest of its history.
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