Printable Version
Pronunciation: ek-sê-krayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. To denounce, to condemn, to say bad things about. 2. To hate, loathe, to think worthy of condemnation. 3. To place a curse on, to accurse.

Notes: This Good Word has a large if unhappy family. My favorite is the passive adjective, execrable [ek-s-kr-bl], meaning "deserving condemnation". But there are also a noun execration and your choice of active adjectives: execrative or execratory "that execrates or contains an execration".

In Play: Because of its marginal usage, this Good Word can often be used innocuously despite its powerful message: "I wouldn't say the string section of the symphony orchestra hates rock-and-roll, I would say it absolutely execrates it." Rock-and-roll aficionados would probably take that as a compliment. We can also use this word where the lexically challenged might resort to profanity: "Yes, I listened to his speech, every execrable word of it."

Word History: So what's new? This word comes from the past participle, execratus "accursed", of the Latin verb execrari "to curse", based on ex [eks] "out (of)" + sacrare "to consecrate" from sacer "sacred". The original Proto-Indo-European root was sa(n)k- "to sanctify" with the Fickle N that is sometimes there, sometimes not. It wasn't in Latin sacer, from which we borrowed sacred. We do see it, though, in saint and sanctify, both from Latin sancire "to sanctify", whose past participle is sanctus. (Today's Good Word was a gift of Lyn Laborial, one of the 'saints' of our series, who supply us with many excellent suggestions.)

Dr. Goodword,

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