• condign •
kên-dain • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Earned, deserved, fitting, merited. 2. Deserving, worthy, equal to the reward or punishment given.
Notes: Today's Good Word has a substantial family, so it is surprising that we hear so little of any of them. Condignity is the noun, with a G that is pronounced. The G is not pronounced in condign and the I is pronounced long, like eye, whereas in condignity is it short, as in dignity. Help us get this family back in circulation. The adverb is simply condignly.
In Play: Condign may refer to a recipient: "When Derry Yare was in charge of the biology department's laboratory animals, he was the condign recipient of the Good Mousekeeping Award three years in a row." You may also turn this adjective around and apply it to what is received: "Derry's Good Mousekeeping award was condign recognition of his work among the cages."
Word History: This word comes, via French, from Latin condignus "wholly deserving", made up of con-, an emphatic prefix in this instance + dignus "deserving, worthy". Yes, that is the same root, dign-, that we see in dignity and indignant. But it is also the same root we see in dogma, paradox, and doxology. These words have significantly different meanings because they came from the Greek variant of the root, the verb dokein "to appear, seem, think". Paradox comes from Greek paradoxos "contrary to expectation" from para "contrary to" + doxa "opinion, thought". (We now offer our condign gratitude to Max Davies for suggesting today's very interesting if rather lonesome Good Word.)
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