Printable Version
Pronunciation: æp-pê-lay-shên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, proper

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." However, it is never, never applied to mountains in the eastern United States (as sometimes occurs in college term papers); those are the Appalachian Mountains.

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from French appellation, the descendant of Latin appellatio(n), the noun from the verb appellare "to call, to entreat." This verb is a combination of ad "up to, before" + pellare "to push, beat, propel." An appeal is something pushed before an authority while an appellation is an abstraction applied to some object. The past participle of pellare is pulsus, the source of English pulse, a kind of beating. The root of pellare came directly into Old English via Old Germanic as fealt, which reached us as felt, a material made by pushing or compacting fibers together rather than by weaving them.

Dr. Goodword,

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