Printable Version
Pronunciation: bee-dai-zên, bee-diz-ên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To dress up in fine clothes, accessories, or other ornaments. 2. To ornament anything.

Notes: This word today is used almost exclusively in the form of its past participle, bedizened. Its sense has migrated to just "dressed up", though a common implication is dressed up to hide flaws. The gerund, bedizening, may be used as an adjective or noun, though the noun bedizenment has been available since the mid 19th century.

In Play: Today's Good Word is most closely associated with clothing and accessories: "Maud Lynn Dresser descended the stairs bedizened in such splendor as bedazzled all eyes below." Today's word may be also used metaphorically: "When appropriate, we bedizen our Good Words here at alphaDictionary with graphics."

Word History: Today's word is be- + dizen "to dress out, dress up". The prefix be- was once a causative prefix, adding the meaning "make, cause" to that of the verb to which is was attached. This verb was derived from the dis in distaff, the staff that holds the unspun flax, wool, or tow for spinning by hand. This word, dis, is akin to Low German diesse, the flax on a distaff. Neither a verb nor a separate word dis can be found in Old English or Middle English, and there is no corresponding verb dizen in Low German. So, at this point, we come up against a blank wall. (We now offer our completely unbedizened gratitude to Perry Lassiter for suggesting today's Good Word in the Alpha Agora.)

Dr. Goodword,

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