Printable Version
Pronunciation: dis-pê-rêt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Incompatibly different, entirely dissimilar. 2. Containing entirely dissimilar or opposite elements.

Notes: We have two traps to avoid in the spelling of this word. First, the first vowel is I, not E: today's word should not be confused with desperate "having lost all hope". Second, the second vowel is A, not E, as we might expect. This word does come with an adverb, disparately, and a noun, disparateness.

In Play: The basic meaning of today's word is "irreconcilably different": "Oil energy and solar energy come from disparate sources." The second sense of today's Good Word may be expressed this way: "Marian Kine broke up with Luke Warme because their personalities were disparate in a way that was not at all complementary."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes to us ultimately from Latin disparatus "separated, divided", the past participle of disparare "to divide ". This verb is made up of dis- "apart" + parare "to allot, make equal". The root of parare is also visible in par(t)s "part". Parcel comes from a diminutive of par(t)s, particula "small part", which also became particle in English. In Latin par meant "equal", so in English the phrase 'on a par with' means "equal to". The Proto-Indo-European word that led to all these words in Latin had an unnoticeable impact outside that language.

Dr. Goodword,

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