• equable •
e-kwê-bêl • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Calm, level-headed, dispassionate, steady and balanced, unupsettable. 2. Free from extremes, uniform, changing little, as an equable temper or climate.
Notes: Here is a very Good Word that we hear little of today either because it is too similar to equitable or because we see less and less equability (noun) around. The meaning of equitable, "just, impartial, treating everyone impartially", is also similar to that of equable, so be careful using these two. The noun for this adjective is equability and an adverb, equably, is also possible.
In Play: Equability is the opposite of getting overexcited or losing our temper: "It is difficult to remain equable when you tell me that my new hair-do looks awful, Ginny Mae!" Equable people step on fewer toes and are more likely to get things done: "I say we send Luke Warme in to discuss raises with the boss; he is an equable guy who won't lose his cool the first time the boss says, 'No.'" I was amazed at how equably Luke asked, "May I have his parking place," when told that Les Fuss died in a car accident.
Word History: Today's Good Word comes to us through the auspices of Old French from Latin æquabilis "equal, consistent, uniform". This adjective was derived from the verb æquare "make uniform", itself based on æquus "level, balanced, equal". This word is obviously the source of English equal and all the words that contain it, such as equality and equalibrium. Exactly how Latin acquired its word remains unclear. The sense of today's word comes from the days when scales were a horizontal beam balanced on a vertical one and two sides were equal when the weight on one side of the horizontal beam was the same as that on the other, which is to say, when the beam was even and balanced. (Thank you, Kyu Ho Youm of the University of Oregon, for so equably suggesting we discuss today's extremely Good Word.)
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