• celerity •
sê-ler-rê-ti • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: No, this word does not refer to the character or flavor of celery. It does mean 1. swiftness of movement or action, or simply 2. speed of any sort.
Notes: According to the American Heritage Dictionary the antonym of this word is deliberation. Well, a near antonym. It is another lexical orphan with only distant relations (see Word History).
In Play: The original reference of today's Good Word was physical movement; "The US interstate highway system was built during the Eisenhower administration to improve the celerity of troop and materiel movement throughout the United States." But then the definition expanded so that today we can say: "The lack of celerity in the nominee's responses raised considerable doubt in the senators' minds."
Word History: Middle English borrowed today's Good Word from Old French celeritee (Modern French célérité), which it inherited from Latin celeritas "swiftness", based on the adjective celer "swift". This word goes back to PIE kel- "to drive quickly", source also of Sanskrit cárati "walks, goes, moves about", Greek keles "fast horse or ship", Lithuanian šuolis "gallop". We see this root also in accelerate, borrowed from Latin accelare "to hasten, speed up". Today's word only coincidentally appears related to celery. Celery was borrowed from French céleri, originally sceleri d'Italie, borrowed from an Italian dialectal term, seleri, the plural of selero. This word was inherited by Italian from Late Latin selinon "parsley", borrowed from Greek selinon with the same meaning.
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