Printable Version
Pronunciation: kê--vêr-rês Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Related to a corpse, a cadaver. 2. Like (that of) a cadaver: pallid, pasty, gaunt, lifeless. 3. Extremely thin, weak, skinny, emaciated, skin and bones.

Notes: This word is the adjective for cadaver. It comes with an adverb, cadaverously, and a noun, cadaverousness.

In Play: Cadaverous started out with the sense of "like a cadaver": "He looked at her with cadaverous eyes, bereft of any sign of life." Once adrift in the English vocabulary, it took on metaphorical senses of its own: "A cadaverous light emanated from the single bulb at the end of a wire hanging from the ceiling."

Word History: Today's Good Word once was Latin cadaver "dead body", probably from a perfective participle of cadere "to fall, decline, perish", which developed from the Proto-Indo-European root kad- "to fall". The semantic trip from "fall" to "dead" followed the same path as the English phrase, 'the fallen in battle'. English borrowed the French word cascade, which French obtained from Italian cascata. Italian inherited it from Vulgar (Street) Latin casicare "fall, cascade", created from Classical Latin cadere "to fall". English also borrowed occasion from Old French, which inherited it from Latin occasio(n) "occasion, opportunity". This word was based on occasus, the past participle of occidere "to fall down", comprised of ob- "down" + the combining form of cadere "to fall". (We welcome back our old friend Lew Jury, who recommended today's immortal Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!