Printable Version
Pronunciation: bê-dek Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. Adorn, decorate. 2. To deck (out), to dress in finery or your Sunday-go-to-meetin' best.

Notes: Here is a word that won't go away; we should reward its stamina by using it more. The past participle is probably the form we are most familiar with, as a town hall bedecked with flags and bunting. The gerund hasn't been used for years, but remains in the Oxford English Dictionary: She arrived in splendiferous bedeckings. The expression we use now does not allow a gerund and has a slangy sound to it: "He came decked out in a new suit."

In Play: This word may be used with inanimate objects: "The church was bedecked in a sea of flowers and glowing faces." It may also be used to refer to animate objects referring to their dress: "Maud Lynn Dresser arrived at the party bedecked in every piece of jewelry in her possession."

Word History: Today's Good Word was dekke in Middle English, probably borrowed from Middle Dutch dec "roof, covering". The Middle Dutch verb decken, from which dec was derived, originally meant simply "to cover". The reason we think this word was borrowed is that English already had directly inherited a word from Old Germanic, derived from the underlying Proto-Indo-European root (s)teg- "to cover"; it was (and still is) thatch. Thatch is cousin to German Dach "roof", Czech and Slovak deka "blanker", and Latin tegula "tile", as in the tiles that Romans covered the roofs of their houses with. (Let us now bedeck James Thompson lavishly with our gratitude for coming up with today's Good Word and posting it to Dr. Goodword.)

Dr. Goodword,

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