Printable Version
Pronunciation: kul Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Slightly cold, of a fairly low temperature. 2. Indifferent, unresponsive, as 'to be cool to an idea'. 3. Calm, collected, phlegmatic, imperturbable, e.g. 'to remain cool during a crisis'. 4. (Jazz) Opposite of 'hot' jazz: with a slow beat, soft, simple. 5. (Slang) Neat, up-to-date, modern, as 'a cool new outfit'.

Notes: Today's Good Word may be used as a noun, as in 'the cool of the evening', or a verb as in 'to cool down after a heated argument'. It may also be used as an interjection, e.g. Cool! "Neat! Great!" This word has a substantial family; a quality noun, coolness (in case you need another syllable), an adverb, coolly, and a diminutive adjective, coolish "slightly cool".

In Play: The basic sense of today's word reflects the temperature of things: "Hot jazz on a cool spring night was a winning combination." It can, however, refer to emotions and reactions that are the opposite of "hot" or "heated": "Ginny was cool to the idea of cleaning up her room." Finally, the slang sense of our Good Word is widely used in the English-speaking world, and has been picked up by several European languages: "Wow! Your new tat is really cool!"

Word History: Today's Good Word is a revision of Latin occludere "close up" comprising ob- "up" + claudere "to close". We also see the remnants of claudere in conclude, include, and exclude. English close is a reduction of clausus "closed", the past participle of claudere. Russian klyuch "key", Serbian kljuka "hook", Lithuanian kliuti "to be caught on"—all come from the same Proto-Indo-European source. The Latin word for "key", clavis, shares the same origin, too. The English borrowings clavicle and clavichord come from clavis . (Let's not allow our gratitude to William Hupy for recommending today's Good Word be occluded by anything.)

Dr. Goodword,

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