Printable Version
Pronunciation: iks-pir-i-êns Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. The apprehension of something through the senses or mind which adds to a person's knowledge, as someone's first experience of tickling. 2. Participation in an activity that leads to knowledge of or skill in that activity, as someone with experience in carpentry.

Notes: Today's noun may be used as a verb, as to experience something. It comes with several adjectives, experienceable, experienced, and experienceless. A less common adjective is experient (of) "having (much) experience, acquainted with", as 'experient of college life' or 'an experient occasion'.

In Play: The first sense of today's word can be incorporated in a verb: "Every time I see Maude Lynn Dresser, I experience nausea." The most common use of this word is the one connected with jobs: "We need a babysitter with combat experience."

Word History: Today's Good Word was copied from French expérience "experiment; experience". French inherited this word from Latin experientia "a test, proof, experiment", based on the present participle, experien(t)s "active, industrious", of experiri "to try, test". This verb comprises ex- "out of" + peritus "experienced, tested", inherited from the Proto-Indo-European root per- "to try, to test, to risk". This root went on to become English fear from the PIE sense of "risk". In Latin the same sense led to periculum "danger". This word underwent considerable French honing and came out péril in Old French, at which point English copied it, removing only the 'hat' on the E. (We hope that suggesting today's Good Word was a pleasant experience for Norman Holler, who writes from Whitehorse, Yukon. We would like him to recommend more.)

Dr. Goodword,

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