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desideratum

Printable Version
Pronunciation: de-zi-dêr-rah-tum Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Something highly desired or considered necessary.

Notes: Today's Good Word hasn't completely escaped Latin, so it brings its Latin plural with it: desiderata. This word has no derivational family, though it must be distantly related to considerate. The verb related to considerate, consider, retained the internal D. The verb related to desideratum did not: desire.

In Play: Among your current desiderata should be a good sample of today's Good Word: "The single desideratum of a good husband for June McBride is untold wealth." (June thinks that whoever said wealth can't buy happiness isn't shopping in the right stores.) Don't forget the Latin plural of this word: "A hangover was not among the desiderata of an evening of fine wine such as Phil had enjoyed the previous day."

Word History: Today's Good Word is the neuter past participle of the Latin verb desiderare "to desire, long for, wish for". By the time this word drifted down to French it had become desirer, whence it was confiscated by English. The other verb in which we see this root, siderare, is considerare "to observe intently", the origin of English consider. This root seems to come from Latin sidus, sideris "star, constellation", though how it came to be in these two verbs is something of a mystery. Sidus came from a Proto-Indo-European word that means "shine, gleam". The PIE word also went into the making of sideror "to suffer sunstroke" or infected by any other celestial body. But this is no help at all. (George Kovac's many contributions to our series like today's Good Word is a great desideratum that the good doctor hopes will continue.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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