Printable Version
Pronunciation: bai-par-tê-zên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Advocated or supported by two discrete parties or sides of an issue.

Notes: This word requires a small 'heads-up': because the S is pronounced [z] in this word, there is a tendency to spell it with a Z. Avoid the temptation. Although an adjective, bipartisan does not function adverbially. It does support a noun, however, which is bipartisanship.

In Play: The US Congress has shown little inclination for bipartisanship in recent years: "We can only expect strong bipartisan support for a bill to raise the salaries or benefits for members of Congress." Cooperation on other issues remains to be seen. However, bipartisanship is possible between any two parties with distinct positions or attitudes: "Management and labor reached a bipartisan agreement to provide equal restroom facilities for male and female employees."

Word History: Today's Good Word entered English around the turn of the 20th century. It was created from an older word, partisan, by adding the prefix bi- "two, both" to it. French picked the word up from Italian partezan, from parte "party, faction" + -ezan, a suffix indicating a member of some group. The root, part- goes back to Latin pars, part- "part, share", a word related to par "equal", used in the Modern English phrase on a par with. It also turns up in Sanskrit purtam "reward" and Hittite parshiya- "fraction, part". Many English words trace their origins back to this root: parcel, parse, parity, to name just three. (I am sure the writers and readers of today's Good Word offer bipartisan gratitude to Chris Berry for suggesting it.)

Dr. Goodword,

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