• charisma •
kê-riz-mê • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. (No plural) A magnetic attraction that allows someone to influence others. 2. A favor from God, an unusual talent or gift, such as a charisma for creating miracles.
Notes: Today's Good Word was Anglicized to charism for a while, but then was reborrowed from Greek along with the Greek plural, charismata. If you have charisma, you are charismatic, which allows you to do things charismatically.
In Play: We most often hear this word in its first sense above: "The charisma of the new Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, has charged the spirit of the Republican presidential campaign." We should not forget its spiritual implication, however: "Unless you have a charisma for foreseeing the future, you should take an umbrella with you to work today."
Word History: Today's Good Word started out as Proto-Indo-European gher- "to like, want". It kept close to this meaning in the Germanic languages. In Swedish it came to be gärna, in Dutch, graag, both meaning "happily, gladly", but in German it picked up N as a suffix, becoming gern "happily, gladly". In English the initial G became Y, giving us yearn. The R in the root apparently also underwent metathesis (switched places with the vowel) to become greedy. In Latin the same underlying root went into the creation of hortari "to encourage, urge", the verb underlying hortatorius, which English borrowed as hortatory. (We offer Doug Smith a hortatory word of thanks to encourage him to send us more Good Words like charisma.)
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