Podcast deja vu

Printable Version
Pronunciation: day-zhah-vu Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: 1. The sense that you are seeing or otherwise experiencing something that has happened before. 2. The sense of boredom at having seen or experienced something too many times.

Notes: Since today's word is a recent borrowing from French—a phrase at that—it is a lexical orphan with no derivational family. Because it is a mass noun, it doesn't even have a plural form. Some people even prefer to keep the exact French spelling, which is déjà vu with the diacritics. They are not necessary, however.

In Play: The most famous use of today's word, of course, was the redundancy in its use by New York Yankees baseball player and coach, Yogi Berra, often quoted as having said, "It's like deja vu all over again." In the US the word is currently taking on a new sense of "annoyance from repetition". Acceptance of this shift is up to you: "Your requests for advances on your allowance are becoming deja vu, son." I would shy away from this usage.

Word History: Today's Good Word is actually a French phrase borrowed intact into English. In French dj vu means, unsurprisingly, "already seen". Vu is the past participle of French voir "to see", the natural descendant of Latin videre "to see" (whence English video, which means "I see" in Latin). In English, the same root that gave vid- in Latin became wit and wise in English, you see. And if you go to see someone, you visit them, don't you? Visit is another relative. The root remained unchanged in Celtic, where vid meant "seer". So the compound dru-wid (druid) meant "strong seer". (We hope that Bonnie Sides lets us experience déjà vu in the future by suggesting more Good Words like today's.)

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!