Printable Version
Pronunciation: kahz-play Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Dressing in a costume of an historical, fictional, or some other character appropriate for the occasion.

Notes: Cosplay may be used as a verb meaning "to dress as a character appropriate for the occasion". Otherwise, this brand new word has had time to beget only a personal noun, cosplayer.

In Play: George Kovac recently visited Château Gaillard in Les Andelys, France, and the tour guide was dressed as Richard the Lionheart, a former resident. Rob Towart noticed that, in the UK, one of the contenders for the post of Prime Minister wore Margaret Thatcherish clothes. My wife and I had lunch at a local inn recently and were joined at table by a woman dressed as Martha Washington who, interactively, told Martha's story as we dined. The company was memorable.

Word History: Today's Good Word is a 1990s blend of costume and play after Japanese kosupure, ultimately borrowed from English 'costume play'. Cosplay originated in Japan. Costume "customary clothes" is a variant of custom, a word borrowed from Old French costume (today coutume). French reshaped its word from Latin consuetudo "habit, tradition", which Latin created from com- "(together) with" + suescere "accustom oneself", the latter built on PIE swe-/swo- "oneself", source also of English self, Russian svoj "one's own", Latin sui "self" (as in suicide), and German selbst "self". The trail behind play is a bit twisted. It seems to share its source with plight, pledge, and indulge, PIE dhlegh- "to engage oneself". It was plegian "move spritely, play" in Old English. How it came to be in Old English remains murky. (In an incredible coincidence today's brand new Good Word was recommended by wordmasters George Kovac and Rob Towart on the same day!)

Dr. Goodword,

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