Printable Version
Pronunciation: ig-zawst Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, noun

Meaning: 1. To use up completely, consume entirely, as 'to exhaust all sources of aid'. 2. To drain empty, as 'to exhaust the lungs of air'. 3. To drain completely of strength, to thoroughly enfeeble, as 'to be exhausted after a workout'. 4. To discharge the undesirable remains of some process, as "Electric cars exhaust nothing."

Notes: Today's is a word with a flurry of meanings around the idea of emptying, ridding some content. Don't forget the H when spelling it. It comes with the regular Latinate noun, exhaustion, and adjective, exhaustive. The noun underlies a negative adjective, exhaustless, one of the defining features of electric cars.

In Play: The figurative sense of this word is so popular it is now listed as a second meaning of the word: "Jill could shop till either she was exhausted, or she had exhausted the credit limit on her Visa card." The sense of "to empty" is one of the most popular senses in which this word is used: "No amount of disinterest from June McBride could exhaust Phil Anders's obsession with her."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a makeover of Latin exhaustus, the past participle of exhaurire "to draw (off, out), drain, empty", comprising ex "(out) from" + haurire "to draw, bring forth". Ex came from PIE eghs "out", which showed up in Russian and other Slavic languages as iz "(out) from", Latvian iz and Lithuanian iš "from, out of", Irish ó "from", and in Greek as ek, ex "(out) from". Haurire goes back to PIE aus- "to draw, ladle out, pour", the source of ancient Greek exauo "I scoop out" and Norwegian øse "ladle". (Now, a round of e-applause for Eileen Opiolka, an inexhaustive contributor to the Agora and source of excellent Good Words like today's.)

Dr. Goodword,

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