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Pronunciation: in-kroch Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive

Meaning: To gradually advance and intrude on something adjacent.

Notes: The noun from this verb is encroachment, and someone who encroaches is known as an encroacher. The adjective is the present participle, encroaching. This intransitive verb is usually used with the preposition on or upon, as in "The roaches are encroaching on my kitchen," a mnemonic sentence helpful for spelling.

In Play: Encroach usually implies gradual intrusion: "Humanity is being squeezed between deserts expanding outward and rising seas encroaching inward." The sense of graduality may be overlooked in some usages: "The bass was too loud and encroached on the other instruments in the jazz ensemble."

Word History: This word comes to us from Old French encrochier "seize, cling (to)", literally "to catch with a hook". It comprises en- "in" + croc "hook", which French borrowed from Old Norse (Viking) krokr "hook". The same Proto-Indo-European word came to English as crook and Russian as kryuk with the same meaning. The PIE word was something like ker-/kor- "to turn, bend", which metathesized into kre-/kro-. With a different suffix, it turned up in German as krumm "crooked, bent". By the way, if honest people are straight, what are devious people if not bent or crooked. Calling dishonest people "bent" is more popular in England. They are crooked in all dialects. (Let us not encroach on the dignity of Frank Myers, retired professor at NYU, Stony Brook, by forgetting to thank him for his recommendation of today's lovely Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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