Printable Version
Pronunciation: ek-spee-ayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: To atone, to appease guilt for a wrong-doing, to make amends for.

Notes: The trick in using today's word is to avoid confusing it with expatiate "to wander broadly, to expand on" or expatriate "to send or go into exile". The verb itself has a large family. The adjective expiatory describes things that expiate, as an expiatory offering. An expiator (agent noun) is someone who engages in expiation (action noun).

In Play: Expiation is more often associated with churches and sin, but it applies to anything we need forgiveness for: "You should take the boss out to dinner to expiate beating him at golf this weekend." Expiation is required of us at home as well as at work and in church: "Junior has to do yard work at home for a month to expiate the low grades on his last report card."

Word History: Today's Good Word was made from expiatus, the past participle of the Latin verb expiare "to atone, expiate", made up of ex "out of" + piare "to appease". This verb comes from the adjective pius "devout, obedient". So the adjective at the bottom of this entire family of words is the origin of English pious, and also the assumed name of twelve popes. The last of these, Pope Pius XII, died in Rome in 1958 at the age of 82. Latin pius might have come from Umbrian pihaz "appeased". (Umbrian is an extinct Italic language related to Latin.) On the other hand, it might be a corruption of Latin purus "pure". We simply can't trace expiate back farther than Latin.

Dr. Goodword,

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