Printable Version
Pronunciation: i-gres, ee-gres Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, Noun

Meaning: No, this word does not refer to a female egret, as it might mislead you to believe. It simply refers to the act of leaving or exiting. It is the antonym of ingress "entrance, act of entering".

Notes: Although many pronounce this word the same way as both a noun and verb, this is one of the many verbs in English that form a noun by simply moving the accent. The verb should be pronounced [i-gres] and the noun [ee-gres]. A rather amazing fact about language is that we don't always have to add a suffix to create a new word from an old one; the simple shift of accent is all that is necessary. Other verb-noun combinations that do the same are survey, reject, and remake, among many, many others. Amaze your friends by keeping the different accents of these words straight.

In Play: Should you tire of using such mundane words as leave or door, put today's Good Word into action: "When the bank robber noted that all points of egress were guarded by armed policemen, he decided to surrender." If you are that daring, you might also be interested in the antonym of today's word, ingress: "Harley Davidson's ingress to the cafe was denied because he wasn't wearing an appropriate tie or jacket."

Word History: Today's Good Word is Latin egressus "going out", the past participle of egredior "to go out", used as a noun. This verb is made up of ex "out (of) + gredior "to step, go". The verb here was derived from the noun gradus "step", a root found in such English words as grade, gradual and graduate. The same root that we find in today's word can be found in many other Latin borrowings indicating some kind of completed movement, such as congress, a type of coming together, progress, a kind of moving forward, transgress, a stepping across (the line), and retrogress, going back. (There is no egress for us from the obligation to thank Katy Brezger for suggesting yet another really Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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