Printable Version
Pronunciation: drê-dhêr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: (Slang) Choice, preference.

Notes: Today's word is a whimsical bit of local color that has spread across the US. It is generally used in the plural, almost exclusively in the set phrase, "If I had my druthers . . ." meaning, "If I had a choice in the matter." There is some question of whether this is a real English word or just a nonce word, a word used for a short period of time for a particular reason only to vanish as quickly and as mysteriously as it arose.

In Play: If the word really is in the language, we may as well use it like any other word: "Don't wish you didn't have to work here—you might get your druther." If you don't like that, stick with the plural: "When it comes to alternatives to this job, I have very few druthers." If you don't like either, the word hasn't become an established word for you, so don't use it. However you feel about it, this word is notably slangy and should be used only in very informal, chatty situations.

Word History: This word is a gift from the US South to the English-speaking public. It was clipped from the phrase '(I)'d rather' in a dialect of the southeastern United States, where rather is pronounced [rêdhêr] instead of [rdhêr]. Rather is a product of now defunct rathe "soon, early", so it originally followed the pattern of "I'd sooner . . .", which also introduced a preference of the speaker. No one knows where rathe came from. We find traces of it in other Germanic languages, but not in any language outside Germanic. (Paul Levinson got his druther today when he suggested we circulate this funny little Good Word rather than any other we might choose.)

Dr. Goodword,

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