• edifice •
e-dê-fis • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. An impressive building, usually large. 2. A sound, solid system or conceptual structure, as 'to contribute to the cultural edifice of a nation'.
Notes: Today's Good Word is a noun from the verb edify "to build; to teach, inform; to improve morally". This verb has a large and robust family. Edification is learning and "tending to educate" may be expressed by either edificative or edificatory. Edifiable means both "buildable" or "capable of learning or improving morally". Edifice refers to that which is built, usually a building but since many abstract systems are built, they may be considered edifices, as well.
In Play: This word is better than just a building or house because it implies something extraordinary and uplifting: "Dreams are the foundation of every edifice; imagination raises them." It is normally used for real buildings, however: "The new National Museum of the American Indian is an elegant edifice of the Kasota limestone reflecting the craggy regions of the West left to native Americans."
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Old French edefier (today édifier) "build; build (character); teach" from Latin ædificare "to build, construct", Late Latin "improve spiritually, instruct". Ædificare is a derivation of aedis "house, building" + combining form of facere "to make, to do", from the PIE word dhe-/dho- "to set, put". So edifice is another Latinate borrowing from the same underlying Latin word. Ædis comes from PIE eidh- "to burn, fire", the implication being that a house was a place with a hearth. Eidh- is also source of Greek aithein "to burn" and aithos "fire", Latin aestas "summer" and aestus "heat", Lithuanian iesmè "firewood", Welsh aidd "heat, zeal", Russian ad "hell", and Old English ad "fire, funeral pyre".
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