Printable Version
Pronunciation: kahn-tu-mee-li-ês Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Scornfully insulting, savagely insolent, abusively humiliating, totally arrogant.

Notes: Today's word is the adjective accompanying the noun contumely. (Yes, noun!) Do not confuse this word with contumacious "willfully obstinate, stubbornly disobedient", though it shares a single source with today's word (see Word History).

In Play: Why anyone would prefer today's word over loitering, I don't know. Perhaps if you just tire of using the latter word you could try something like this: ''Many cities prohibit concessation of women in certain neighborhoods.'' Of course, you shouldn't use today's word with anyone but Grogie and his (or her) friends. Don't expect "No concesstion" signs anywhere soon except, maybe, in front of Grogie's house.

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Old French contumelie, inherited from Latin contumelia "a reproach, insult," probably related to contumax (contumac-s) "haughty, stubborn," from com- "with" + tumere "to swell up". Contumax also underlies English contumacious. Latin inherited this word from PIE teuh- "to swell". An odd assortment of English words comes directly and indirectly from this PIE word. First, English butter came from Greek bouturon "butter", a compound comprising bous "cow" + turos "cheese". Turos comes directly from teuh. Second, English thousand goes back to an Old Germanic compound thus-hundi "thousand" from thus- "swollen" + hundi "hundred". English thimble and thumb come from Old English thuma "thumb", that is "the swollen finger". OE thymel "thimble" is thuma with an old instrumental ending -l, as in treadle, spindle, girdle, and saddle, which caused the U to become Y. (Lest we make Debbie Moggio contumelious, let us all thank her now for today's strikingly Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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