Printable Version
Pronunciation: eg-zi-jên-see Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. An unforeseen crisis or emergency, an urgent necessity. 2. (Law) A requirement, need, or expectation.

Notes: Today's noun may be used with or without the final (redundant) suffix -y: exigence is equally acceptable though less often used. Both these nouns are derived from the adjective exigent [eg-z-jnt] "pressing, urgent", as in exigent circumstances. There is a sibling adjective, exigible "demandable, that could be required", as an exigible duty on imports, a duty that could be charged whether it actually is or not.

In Play: Our lives are filled with exigent circumstances: "Malcolm was late for work because of a family exigency: his tie got caught in the food disposal and his head was held in the sink for a quarter hour." Of course, what is exigent is a matter of taste and opinion: "Charlotte was faced with a major exigency when she arrived home to discover her apartment was bereft of anything chocolate."

Word History: This Good Word comes from another Latin present participle, exigen(t)s "demanding", of the verb exigere "to demand, require". The past participle is exactus, the origin of our verb (to) exact, as to exact a high price. This verb is a combination of ex "out (of)" and agere "to drive, initiate, lead, carry out". The past participle of this verb is actus, ancestor to English act. However, this verb is also the source of agent, someone who carries out tasks on your behalf. Synagogue comes from the Greek equivalent of this verb, synagein "to bring together", based on syn "(together) with" + agein "bring, lead, direct".

Dr. Goodword,

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