Printable Version
Pronunciation: ek-spênj Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: To remove completely from a set, obliterate all traces of, erase or delete leaving no remnant.

Notes: This Good Word does not simply mean to remove, erase, or delete but specifically to carry out these actions on a member of a set, such as an entry in a database or records of some kind. Should you ever expunge something, you become an expunger, guilty of expunction, as in the expunction of all records pertaining to someone's misbehavior from the personnel files.

In Play: "I cannot expunge from my mind the image of you eating your salad undressed in front of all our guests," Philip admonished his naive though lovely wife, Gwendolyn, who had no idea what he was talking about. But I find the richest set of creativie possibilities in the noun related to today's Good Word: "For four years Ella Minnow Pea served as Director of Expunction at the White House, in charge of all the paper shredders."

Word History: Today's Good Word was taken from the Latin verb expungere "to cross out, erase " from ex- "out (of)" + pungere "to prick, punch". The Proto-Indo-European root peu(n)g- here contains the notorious PIE Fickle N, which mysteriously comes and goes in PIE words. It also shows up in the English verb pink "to cut a dentate pattern", still retained in pinking shears, originally for punching rows of holes in clothing for decoration. Poignant is the present participle of French poindre "to prick", a descendant of pungere above. The English adjective refers to pricking the conscience or other sensitivities. Without the Fickle N, we get Latin pugil "pugilist". (This will expunge any opportunity of forgetting to thank Gail Rallen for suggesting today's Good if somewhat prickly word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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