• bromide •
bro-maid • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A sedative, originally a chemical compound of bromine and potassium. 2. A cliché, a trite, hackneyed expression intended to soothe and placate. 3. (British slang) A boor, an unoriginal person whose ideas are commonplace, cliché.
Notes: This is a word I hear and read more rarely than earlier. Since the medicinal sedative is no longer used, it arises only in its second and third senses today. It comes with an adjective, bromidic.
In Play: Since this word no longer occurs in its medicinal sense, let's concentrate on its figurative sense: "Some politicians try to placate their constituents with the old bromide that surviving a pandemic will make us stronger in the end." But politicians are not the only ones who resort to bromides: "Nada Farthingsworth tried to comfort her friend who had just lost her fourth husband with the same old clichés and bromides: 'he's in a better place' and 'he's looking down at us right now.'"
Word History: Today's Good Word is a combination of brom- + -ide. The root brom- was taken from Greek brōmos "stench, stink". No one has any idea of how this word came to be in the Greek language. It might be related to brómos "loud noise", but there is no evidence to base such a connection on. We know no more about the suffix -ide. We borrowed this suffix from French, which inherited it from Latin -idus. In Latin it formed adjectives mostly from verbs, rarely from nouns, like vividus "vivid" < vivere "to live", fluidus "fluid" < fluere "to flow", and frigidus "cold" < frigere "to be cold". (Let's all now thank Jan Linders, a friend of Rob Towart, avoiding any bromides, for suggesting today's mysterious Good Word.)
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