Podcast blandishment

Printable Version
Pronunciation: blæn-dish-mênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Flattery intended to sway an opinion or decision, cajolery, wheedling. 2. A flattering inducement to do something.

Notes: Today's word is the noun from the verb blandish "to insincerely flatter in order to influence or sway a decision". The person who blandishes is a blandisher. The activity of blandishing is blandishment and the person doing the blandishing is a"blandisher. Do not confuse this lexical family with that of brandish "to flourish, to wave about menacingly", which also contains members brandisher and brandishment. The meanings are wildly different even though both reflect ways of changing opinion.

In Play: Blandishments are first and foremost seductive: "Not even the sweetest blandishments could move Reginald to surrender the keys to his car to Gilda Lilly in her condition." But do keep in mind the distinction between blandishment and brandishment: "When her kindest blandishments failed to convince Carsten to put on his shirt for dinner, Helen Weals made her point by brandishing the cast iron skillet her mother gave her for Christmas."

Word History: Today's word came via Old French blandissment based on Latin blandus "smooth, soft, flattering", also the origin of English bland. Oddly enough, the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root underlying bland- is mol-/mel-/ml- "soft" in the usual three PIE flavors, with [o], with [e], and with neither. The word-initial combination [ml] regularly became [bl] in Greek and Latin; aside from blandus we find Greek blenna "mucous" and blennos "slime." The same two forms also combined with a suffix -d to form Serbian mlad and Russian molodoy "young".

Dr. Goodword,

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