• exordium •
eg-zor-di-êm, ig-zor-di-êm • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A beginning or introduction, especially a formal or pompous one.
Notes: This is the word to use to for an especially formal or bombastic introduction, especially one followed by a peroration. The plurals of this word are exordia or exordiums. Its adjective is exordial.
In Play: An exordium need not be pompous: "After his exordium, the orator expressed his desire to raise the tone of discourse about the subject." However, why else use a rare Latin word when more common words are available: "The audience began rising after her exordium, then had to sit back down as she continued with the peroration of her speech."
Word History: Today's Good Word was adopted from Latin. Exordium "the warp of a web", hence "a beginning, commencement", is the noun from exordiri "to begin". This verb is made up of ex "(away) from, outward" + ordiri "to begin to weave". Latin created ordiri from PIE ar- "to fit together", as a spider might fit the parts of its web together. Ar- went into the making of English arm and Greek harmos "joint, shoulder", that underlies harmonia "agreement, concord of sounds", which English reshaped into harmony. Armoire is a French refinishing and redefinition of Latin armarium "tool chest", created from arma "tools". Art may be traced back to the same PIE word. (Today's rare but fascinating Good Word was recommended by Daniel Obertance of somewhere in Ohio, who has become a regular contributor to this series.)
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