Printable Version
Pronunciation: di-vê-gayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive (no object)

Meaning: 1. To wander about, meander, drift about in different directions. 2. To ramble, digress, stray from the point in speaking, writing, or thinking.

Notes: Today's Good Word hasn't been used much since the 19th century, but that is no reason to avoid applying it today. There is still plenty of divagation (the action noun) in the world and divagators (the personal noun) who need to know what it is called.

In Play: Anything that moves in no particular direction divagates: "After puncturing the balloon with a pin, little Abner watched it rapidly divagate around the room before plopping to the floor." Abstractions divagate as well as concrete objects: "About halfway through his lecture on raising rice in South Carolina, Llewellyn divagated into a suite of reveries about partying his summers away in his ocean-front house at Myrtle Beach."

Word History: Today's Good Word, of course, comes from Latin, this time from the past participle, divagatus, of divagare "to wander around", made up of di(s)- "away, apart from" + vagari "to wander". The root vagari was derived from vagus "strolling, wandering", a word which also ended up in English as vague, borrowed from Latin's descendant language, French. Although it resembles divagate a bit, navigate comes from a completely different source. It is built of navis "ship" + agere "to drive, lead", the root of English borrowings agent and act. (Before we divagate, let's remember to thank Lyn Laboriel for finding this lovely word and suggesting it to us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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