Printable Version
Pronunciation: bæn-ish Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. To force to leave, to exile from some place, as 'to banish a rowdy from the club'. 2. To drive away, expel, as 'to banish fear from your mind'.

Notes: Someone who banishes is a banisher, and the act of banishing is banishment. Do not confuse ban with banish. The former means simply "to prohibit", while the latter means "to chase away".

In Play: We can only be banished from a place: "When Hank Epanki came home smelling of another woman's perfume, his wife banished him from the house for a week." The place may be concrete or abstract: "Banish the thought! I would never think of joining a club whose standards are so low as to accept someone like me."

Word History: Today's Good Word was copied from Old French baniss-, an extended form of the verb banir "proclaim; forbid; banish, to outlaw" (Modern French bannir). French apparently borrowed this word from some Germanic language, maybe from an ancestor of English ban. Ban came from Proto-Indo-European bha-n- "to speak". It went into the making of many Indo-European words, like Greek pheme "speech" and phone "voice, sound", both from phanai "to speak". It also produced Sanskrit bhanati "speaks". With a different suffix, Latin created fari "to say", from which fabula "story" and fama "reputation", underlying the English borrowing famous, and Russian created bayka "fairy tale". By the way, ban only coincidentally resembles bane. (Lest he thinks we banished today's remarkable Good Word, let's thank Christ Stewart of South Africa for suggesting it last June.)

Dr. Goodword,

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