Printable Version
Pronunciation: e-kyu-men-i-kêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Related to the world's religions or the promotion of unity among them, especially the Christian religions. 2. Universal, world-wide.

Notes: Pope Francis's visit to the United States and Cuba last week brought this word to the mind of today's contributor. We saw on television several scenes with the Pope and representatives of several other religions which, I think, everyone took as ecumenical acts. The abstract noun for today's word is ecumenism and the personal noun is ecumenist.

In Play: In keeping with the theme of our recent visitor, we might say something like this: "This Pope has ecumenical appeal, not limited to Catholics." Although this word originated in the Catholic Church, it now has wandered into our secular vocabulary: "Jerry Mander's political message isn't very ecumenical; it excludes black Americans, women, and Hispanics."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from the PIE word for "house": weik-, which ancient Greek converted to oikos "house". Specifically, it goes back to Greek oikoumene (ge) "inhabited (world)", based on the past participle of oikein "to inhabit, live in". The same Greek word went into the making of economy. This word ultimately came from Greek oikonomos "manager of a household", comprising oikos + nemein "to manage". In the western PIE languages, the W of weik- became V, giving Latin its vicus "quarter, neighborhood", underlying English vicinity, and villa "country house, farm". Vulgar (Street) Latin had a word, villanus "feudal serf" based on villa. Middle English inherited the Old French descendant of villanus, vilein, retaining the original meaning but adding the connotation "coarse person". The rest is history. (Jackie Straus did not get all poped out watching the Pope on TV all week, but let his visit set her mind to flight.)

Dr. Goodword,

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