• dolor •
do-lêr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)
Meaning: Profound sadness, deep sorrow, grief, mourning.
Notes: Today's sad little word is dolorous when dressed as an adjective and dolorously, as an adverb. Some writers create a noun, dolorousness, from the adjective but the result is redundant since it means that same as dolor. (It is also a bit clumsy.) If you visit the UK or other English-speaking nations, expect an extra vowel in the spelling of this word, dolour, paralleling colour and armour.
In Play: Today's Good Word is usually applied to serious situations: "There has been a dolorous pall about Gilda ever since she was passed over for the promotion." Of course, it needn't be: "Since his pet potbellied pig wandered away from home, Aiken Hart slumps into a depressive dolor every time he smells bacon."
Word History: Middle English borrowed today's word from Old French dolour, the natural descendant of Latin dolor "pain", from dolere "to hurt, suffer". This noun also went on to become Spanish dolor and Italian dolore with the same meaning, "sorrow, mourning". The root also turns up in many English words borrowed from Latin or Romance languages: condolence "grieving with", indolent, and deleterious. The original PIE root was del-/dol- "to cut", which also gave Russian its dolya "share" and delit' "divide". (We are far from sad that one of the Good Word editors, Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira, suggested today's beautiful if dolorous word.)
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