Printable Version
Pronunciation: di-sêrt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive.

Meaning: To converse for a long while, to speak (or write) at length on a subject.

Notes: Today's Good Word is the verb down at the bottom of dissertation. Dissertations were originally lengthy conversations, not written tracts proving that you have learned well the lessons toward your PhD. Today only the noun dissertation is used widely, but the adjective, dissertative, and the personal noun, dissertator, are still in service and at our disposal when necessity calls.

In Play: What better dessert to follow an evening meal than a pleasant dissertation with your friends: "We all retired to the study after dinner and disserted on the current political situation until midnight." We should ignore the fact that this word has become somewhat archaic and use it boldly in everyday conversations: "Buzzy, I don't want to have to waste time disserting on why you have to mow the lawn; I just want you to do it!"

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from the Latin verb dissertare "to discuss", comprising dis- "apart, un-" + serere "to join, connect". The root ser- turns up in several other Latin words borrowed by English either directly or via French, including insert and consort, referring to different types of connections. With an M suffix, it appears in sermon "discourse, speech", to which English gave a religious turn. Latin sors "fate, fortune" turns up in English sorcerer, a person who many in the past believed could have an important impact on their fate.

Dr. Goodword,

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