Printable Version
Pronunciation: ko-ee-vêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun

Meaning: 1. (Adjective) Of the same age, existing in the same time frame, of coincident duration. 2. (Noun) Someone or something that existed at the same time as someone or something else.

Notes: No, this word does not mean "equally evil" even though it sounds like it; notice the third vowel. The adverb of this word is formed with the usual suffix -ly: coevally, and a noun by adding -ity, coevality, though, presumably, the clumsier coevalness would pass muster. This adjective may be used as a personal noun, as 'to be the coeval of George Washington'. Don't forget to pronounce the E; it isn't silent.

In Play: We may use this adjective with the prepositions to or with: coeval to or coeval with, though coeval with makes more sense: "Andy Belham's thinking is coeval with that of Neanderthal man!" The preposition of sounds better with the noun: "My grandfather was a coeval of Mark Twain, but didn't have Twain's sense of humor."

Word History: Today's Good Word originates in Latin coaevus "of the same age", based on com- "with" + aevum "never ending time, generation". The same Proto-Indo-European word came up in the Latin words that English borrowed as longevity, medieval, and primeval. It arose in Greek as aion "age", which English borrowed for its eon, and Sanskrit ayuh "life, health". Finally, Old Germanic aiwi "ever" became Modern German ewig "eternal, forever". (We are grateful to our coeval and long-time contributor Professor Kyu Ho Youm of the University of Oregon for suggesting today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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