Printable Version
Pronunciation: dis-kælst Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Shoeless and bootless, which means barefoot or wearing only sandals. This word usually refers to members of religious orders, monks and nuns.

Notes: Well, we have Good Words in English for "barefoot" and "shod", but we really need a word for "wearing sandals", don't we? Well, Good Word subscriber Suzanne Russell has found it for us. It is remarkable that this word has no relatives, not even the mother verb, discalce, which should have produced it. If people you speak with ignore this word, use its synonym, discalceated. The Oxford English Dictionary does list a verb for it: discalceate "to remove the shoes".

In Play: Word mavens and word lovers may disdain using this word in reference to anyone other than a monk or nun: "The Bishop led a procession of discalced Capuchin friars down the aisle of the church." However, the sense of "sandaled" must certainly appeal to word freaks: "It was a hot day and the streets of New Monia were filled with discalced bicyclists."

Word History: Today's Good Word, of course, is from Latin but not from the past participle it seems to come from. Like English, Latin used its past participial ending to make adjectives from nouns meaning "having N", where N is the noun. So forested, pointed, and my favorite, bearded, are not participles, but adjectives from nouns. Discalced is a shortened form of Latin discalceatus, made up of dis- "un-" + calceatus "shod, wearing shoes" from calceus "shoe". The word for "shoe" comes from calx (calc-s) "heel", possibly from a time when people wore very short shoes. (I would be a heel were I to forget thanking Suzanne Russell for presenting this word to us for our zealous consideration.)

Dr. Goodword,

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