Printable Version
Pronunciation: dis-kês Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To talk/write about (something) with/for one or more people. 2. To examine a topic in detail.

Notes: Just remember the double S at the end; a discus is something entirely different. The action noun is discussion and the adjective is discussive. Someone participating in a discussion may be called either a discussant or discussionist, depending on how many syllables you need.

In Play: Discussions always involve one or more people: "The staff of our physics department sat around enjoying communal whiskies and discussing black holes and the Big Bang with their visitor." It may be used humorously, though, with the word in scare quotes: "Thanksgiving dinner was always an occasion to 'discuss' politics."

Word History: Today's Good Word has moved, semantically, from violence to peaceful rationality over the years of its existence. In Middle English discussen meant "to examine". It originated in Latin discussus, the past participle of discutere "to dash to pieces, shake apart", made up of dis- "apart" + combining form of quatere "to shake (apart)". In Late Latin the meaning had already shifted to "to examine, investigate", the meaning which English adopted. Quatere was created from PIE kwet- "to shake". English quash surely came from the same source, from Medieval Latin quassare "to shatter" via Old French quasser "to smash, destroy". (The combination TS often reverted to SS in many languages.) Lithuanian kutenti "to tickle" and German schütteln "to shake" share the same source. (We have Jeremy Busch to thank for today's quite interesting Good Word. We should also thank Jeremy for his help in maintaining a tidy, spam-free Agora.)

Dr. Goodword,

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