Printable Version
Pronunciation: di-raid Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: To make contemptuous fun of, to ridicule or mock.

Notes: No, today's Good Word does not mean "stop riding" or "get off the horse", but is based on the Latin stem -rid which refers to laughter (see Word History). This means that the adjective, derisive [di-ri-siv], and activity noun, derision [di-ri-zhên], are based on Latin forms, too, with an S replacing the D. However, a person who derides others is just an ordinary English derider.

In Play: If you don't like derision, try to avoid dumb mistakes: "Chester Droers can't understand why all his friends deride the new tattoo on his chest that says 'Studd!'" In fact, to completely avoid derision, it is best to avoid dumb ideas in general: "You can deride my idea for an electric fork but just remember, they derided Thomas Edison's idea of the electric light, too!"

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from deridere "to laugh", based on de "down, (away) from" + ridere "to laugh". This root rid-, as mentioned in the Word History of risible, did not spread evenly throughout the Indo-European languages. It shows up in Sanskrit vridyati "is ashamed", but nowhere else. It is present in a few other English borrowings from Latin, however. Besides risible, we find it in ridiculous and riant "merry, jovial". (We would not like to be derided for omitting mention of our gratitude to Larry Brady, a perennial visitor to our Alpha Agora, for suggesting today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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