Printable Version
Pronunciation: dot Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive

Meaning: To be foolish, silly, crazy out of love or old age.

Notes: Here is a word that is curious because of the two seemingly distinct meanings it has: 'to dote over a child' and to 'be in our dotage'. One sense seems to refer to excessive love and the other to senility. The original meaning of this word is 'to be crazy', as in 'crazy over someone' or simply because of old age. Someone who dotes is a dotard. We dote on or over: as 'to dote over her son' or 'to dote on his wife'.

In Play: We all know doting parents or doting spouses. The implication of today's word is to love someone to silliness: "The media corporations dote over Donald Trump because he attracts large audiences to the screen." We can dote over things other than people: "Rita Book dotes on the novels of John Grisham."

Word History: Today's Good Word in Early Middle English was doten, of which no trace is found in Old English. It has a cousin in Middle Dutch doten "to be crazy, silly, to dote". The Low German stem doten was the source of Old French redoter, modern French radoter "to ramble on, jabber, prattle". The close relation of the senses of French radoter and English dote, and the presence of English derivatives with French suffixes such as dotage and French radotage "prattling", indicate a relationship between the French and English words as though an Anglo-Norman verb, doter, might have existed. We have no evidence of the ancestry of this word beyond Germanic languages with the borrowing by Old French. (Let's express our gratitude for today's foolish Good Word to Les Canoodle, someone who dotes on his girlfriend, June McBride.)

Dr. Goodword,

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