Printable Version
Pronunciation: in-thuz Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To positively excite, make enthusiastic, eager to do something. 2. Talk excitedly and approvingly (about).

Notes: This word was long frowned upon by English-language purists, but now it is listed in all the respected dictionaries. The noun expressing the quality produced by this verb is enthusiasm and the adjective, enthusiastic. Someone enthusiastic about something is an enthusiast.

In Play: Today's Good Word may be transitive and take a direct object: "Music enthused him, woke him up in the morning and lulled him to sleep at night." It may also be intransitive but, if so, it requires the preposition about with an object: "The dinner wasn't anything to enthuse about, but the conversation was sparkling and titillating."

Word History: Today's Good Word was produced by linguistic process of 'back-derivation'. This process involves the misanalysis of an underived word as a derived one. In this case, the last four letters of enthusiasm were mistaken for the suffix -ism and was removed to produce this verb. Enthusiasm is a modification of Late Latin enthusiasmus, borrowed from Greek enthousiasmos "inspiration, frenzy". The Greek word is a noun from enthousiazein "to be inspired by a god", from entheos "full of god, inspired", comprising en- "in" + theos "god". The Greek word theos comes from PIE dhes-, a word associated with religion. Latin turned it into festus "festive, joyful", originally referring to religious holidays. French turned this word in to fête, which English borrowed as fete. (Yet another 'thank-you' to wordmaster extraordinaire Albert Skiles for bringing yet another fascinating Good Word to our attention.)

Dr. Goodword,

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