Podcast emolument

Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-mahl-yê-mênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Any sort of compensation received for employment, whether salary, stock options, or other benefits.

Notes: Be careful not to confuse this word with emollient "softening or a softener". You have your choice of two adjectives for this noun: emolumental or emolumentary. Either of these, fitted with the suffix -ly, performs admirably as adverbs: emolumentally, emolumentarily.

In Play: In an era of outlandish emoluments for corporate officers, this is a word that is fast becoming a lexical workhorse: "You might think a million dollars a year plus benefits would be sufficient emolument for a chief executive." However, emoluments may be large or small and they don't even have to involve money: "My new job involves a lot of heavy lifting, but having a manager who trained as a chiropractor is an extra emolument."

Word History: Today's Good Word originates in Latin emolumentum "gain, profit, advantage, benefit", a word which originally referred to a miller's fee for grinding grain. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the noun comes from the verb emolere "to grind out : e(x) "out of, from" + molere "to grind". The Russian verb meaning "to grind", molot' shares the same origin as molere. Among the Germanic languages we find English mallet and (corn) meal. German Mehl, Dutch meel, and Danish mel, all of which mean "flour". Interestingly, the second word in English pall mall comes from this root, too. It originated in Italian pallamaglio, made up of palla "ball" + maglio "mallet", another crusher. This word referred to a popular 17th century game in which a ball was hit with a mallet through a hoop at the end of an alley or to the alley itself. Today Pall Mall is a fashionable London avenue that grew from an alley where the game was once played.

Dr. Goodword,

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