• atrocity •
ê-trah-sê-ti • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A horribly evil act, action, or activity, a monstruous condition or quality. 2. An ugly, distasteful object.
Notes: Today's word is the noun derived from the adjective atrocious, a word unfortunately topical today. We also have a clunkier noun, atrociousness. The adverb is atrociously. Just remember only one T and the [sh] sound it represented in this word by CI.
In Play: As an adjective and adverb today's word behaves normally for those categories: "Hopefully, justice will be brought to bear on those who committed all the atrocities during the Russian invasion of Ukraine." We hear it used as a noun less frequently: "If you think Russell Cleverley dresses bizarrely, you should see the atrocity he calls a car."
Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from French atrocité, passed down from Latin atrocitas "cruelty", the noun for the adjective atrox (atrok-s) "fierce". Latin apparently inherited a PIE compound atr-ok- composed of metathesized ater- "fire, burn" + okw-/ekw- "eye, to see". The descendants of ater- include Armenian airem "burns ignites", Polish and Serbian vatra "fire", and Romanian vatră "hearth". Okw-/ekw- went on to become Latin oculus "eye", English eye, German Auge "eye", French œil (descendant of Latin oculus), and Russian okno "window". In fact, English window evolved from an Old Norse (Viking) borrowing vindauga, literally "wind-eye", from vind "wind" + auga "eye". The Norse word replaced the Old English word eagthyrl "eye-hole". (Today's very topical Good Word came to the mind of our old friend and prolific contributor Albert Skiles while he was watching a recent newscast.)
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