Printable Version
Pronunciation: dis-krep-ênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Inconsistent, incompatible, not in accord or agreement, at odds, at variance.

Notes: The noun derived from this adjective probably has more traction today than the adjective itself. In fact, it has so much traction that it requires two forms to cover its semantic territory: discrepance "the state of being discrepant" and discrepancy "an instance of discrepance". Remember, this word ends in -ant, not -ent.

In Play: "Don't do what I say to, do what I do" speaks to the meaning of today's word: "His talk and walk—what he says as opposed to what he does—are radically discrepant." Here is an example discovered by today's recommender: "And there was Lennon and McCartney's 'I Wanna Be Your Man', which the band long ago played in a fast jitter, and has now slowed down and shaped into its familiar mid-tempo formula, with the discrepant cross-chopping of guitars and drums." (Review of Rolling Stone's 50th reunion tour concert, New York Times, December 10, 2012.)

Word History: Today's Good Word comes ultimately from discrepan(t)s "differing", the present participle of discrepere "to sound differently, not to harmonize, to differ", comprising dis- "apart, off" + crepare "to rattle, rustle, clatter". Latin inherited the word from Proto-Indo-European root ker- "harsh animal sound, e.g. caw, croak, whinny", underlying Latin corvus "raven", Greek korax "raven" and korone "crow", Old Church Slavonic kruku "raven", Lithuanian kranklys "crow", Czech krákorat "cackle". The PIE word made its way through Old Germanic to Old English as hræfn and hroc: today these words are raven and rook. (It would be discrepant with past policy if we did not thank George Kovac at this point for recommending today's historically raspy Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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