Printable Version
Pronunciation: di-port-mênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: Behavior, conduct, the way someone behaves as measured against a specific code of behavior.

Notes: Deportment comes from the reflexive verb to deport oneself, semantically unrelated to deportation (unless you are a visitor to a country and your deportment is really bad). Conduct is a synonym of deportment (conduct unbecoming an officer) whose meaning leans more toward moral behavior. Another synonym is comportment, which also means "bearing, physical demeanor, the way you carry yourself": "Her graceful comportment bespoke an inner tranquility."

In Play: We generally use today's word in a context where a specific code of conduct is expected: "Gladys, your criticism of the boss's tie today was deplorable deportment for a staff meeting." Parents are particularly keen on deportment: "Listen to your mother, Sedgwick; be on your best deportment for the interview today—and don't wear those yellow socks!"

Word History: Today's Good Word is a noun based on the Latin verb deportare "to carry away", made up of de- "away (from)" + portare "to carry". The Latin root port- turns up in many English borrowings from Latin: porter, important, and sport from Old French disport "amusement, fun". The original Proto-Indo-European root was the pair per-/por- "lead or pass over". This root came to Old Germanic as faran, visible today in German fahren "travel by vehicle" and English fare, referring to the cost of travel. Fare also appears in many compounds such as farewell ("travel well" originally), thoroughfare, and welfare. (We do not want to pass over Samuel Keays of the Agora without thanking him for his excellent deportment in bringing today's Good Word to our attention.)

Dr. Goodword,

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