• appurtenance •
ê-pêrt(-ê)-nêns • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: An object that belongs to a specific environment or particular to a specific task or style, a necessary piece, an accessory that is particularly fitting.
Notes: Today's Good Word is the noun for the adjective appurtenant "belonging, pertinent". Remember that the second vowel is U and the third is E. The rest should be easy.
In Play: An appurtenance could be a piece of furniture that just fits the room: "The only appurtenance of Jay Pegg's geekiness in his apartment was a laptop computer." However, this word applies to any environment containing accessories: "Val Halla's yacht was 150 feet long and had all the appurtenances of luxury travel."
Word History: This word was borrowed from Anglo-Norman apurtenance, from Late Latin appertinen(t)s "pertaining to", the present participle of appertinere "to pertain to". This word came from ad- "(up)to" + pertinere "to reach, relate, have reference to", containing per- "through" + tenere "to hold (fast)". Latin tenere "to hold (fast)" produced several words we find now anglicized: tenant, tenure, tenacious, tenable, and tenet, all related to holding in some sense. Tenere is based on the PIE root ten- "to stretch", which emerged in Sanskrit tantram "loom" and tanoti "stretches, lasts". Persian tar "string" is visible in sitar, an Indian stringed instrument. It also appears in Greek tetanos "stiff, rigid", from which English borrowed its tetanus, otherwise known as "lock-jaw". Here we see the connection between "stretch" and "hold": stretched and dried animal skins hold their shape.
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