Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-sem-blij Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. The act of fitting things together or a collection of things that fit or otherwise simply go together, as the assemblage of an airplane module or an assemblage of flowers in a garden. 2. A gathering of people or animals, as an assemblage of political figures. 3. A work of art created by assembling unrelated found objects.

Notes: The meanings of assemblage and assembly overlap, but not in perfect synonymy. The sense of "act of assembling" is shared by the two, but there the similarity ends. Assembly can refer to a organizational gathering of people, such as the General Assembly of the UN or a church assembly, but it cannot refer to an artistic composition. An artist known for his or her assemblages is an assemblagist.

In Play: Using the more poetic assemblage instead of the more commonplace assembly is usually reserved for special occasions: "Franklin's most embarrassing moment was when his suspenders gave way amongst an assemblage of the town glitterati at the Diddem Inn." However, there is plenty of room for metaphorical usage: "His house is an assemblage of modules built according to a salmagundi of past and present styles."

Word History: Today's Good Word was copied from French assemblage "assembling", a noun derivation of assembler "to assemble". French inherited this word from Vulgar (Street) Latin assimulare, comprising ad "(up)to" + simul "together, simultaneously". Latin simul is recognizable in the English borrowing from Latin, simultaneous. It comes from the Proto-Indo-European word sem- "one, as one, together with", which we find behind English same. This word also emerged in Latin as similis "of the same kind", found in the borrowed words similar and resemble. (Our entire assemblage of readers owes Sanjay Morlidhar its gratitude for recommending today's beautiful Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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