Printable Version
Pronunciation: dee-lek-tay-shên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Delight, enjoyment, pleasure.

Notes: Today's Good Word comes with a much more popular adjective, delectable, which offers itself freely to adverbialization, to wit delectably. The verb with which all these forms are associated, delectate, today is a joke, as in, "I delectated myself with a Bach toccata and a glass of sherry before retiring." Using this verb is a great way to build a reputation as a weirdo (or eccentric if you are especially wealthy).

In Play: Those of us who do not hold English responsible for its lexical shopping sprees into Latin and French can enjoy today's Good Word without a touch of guilt or shame in such expressions as, "Arriving at table for the evening repast, we discovered it brimming with culinary delectations that left us all agog." This word may be used as above, as a count noun, or as an uncountable mass noun: "Adam Zapple made peculiar throat noises for the delectation of the baby, who returned only a puzzled look."

Word History: This word was originally Latin delectatio(n) "delight, pleasure", based on the past participle (delectatus) of delectare "to delight, to please". The verb delectare arrived in Old French as deliter along with a noun delit "delight". English borrowed this word, but our forespeakers, in order to make it sound more 'English', began spelling it like night, right, and sight. The current spelling of Middle English rime, as in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", arose in a similar way. Since poetry once was possessed of both rhythm and rime, Middle English scholars concluded that it must be a Greek word, like rhythm, and began spelling it so that it looked more like that originally Greek word. (We must now thank Sue Russell for the generous lexical delectation she has served us all by suggesting today's intriguing Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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