Printable Version
Pronunciation: e-dê-fai Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: Enlighten, educate, teach in such a way as to improve (someone) morally or intellectually.

Notes: Edify differs from its near synonyms by the fact that it may refer to intellectual or moral improvement. The action noun is edification. The adjective is edifying.

In Play: This word may be used for intellectual edification: "Mom took the kids out of school to hear the Secretary of State under the assumption that it would be an edifying experience for them." Actually, they joined the protest outside the lecture hall, which was also edifying. This word also may be used for moral edification: "The murals on the walls of ancient Greek Orthodox churches edified illiterate peasants with stories from the Bible."

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".

Dr. Goodword,

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