• extravagant •
eks-træ-vê-gênt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Lavish, outlandishly overdone, exaggerated in cost or richness.
Notes: The prefix extra is a big help in remembering the meaning of this Good Word. Now, to spell this word correctly, all we need to remember is that all the vowels are As except the first one. The noun is extravagance unless you need another syllable, in which case you may rely on extravagancy. Someone who does anything extravagantly extravagates, a word not often used but found in all the respectable dictionaries.
In Play: Extravagance is first and foremost overexpenditure: "The wedding was an extravagant affair in Budapest, where all the guests were flown on the parents' private jet." However, any sort of exaggeration is fair game for this word: "To say that Tad Poole is good at his job, I'm afraid, would be extravagant praise for the man."
Word History: This word comes to us via French from Latin extravagan(t)s "wandering beyond", made up of extra- "outside, beyond" + vagari "to wander". Extravagans devolved into Italian extravaganza over the centuries, making it sufficiently different for English to copy it, too. Extra- is a combination of ex "out (of)" + a suffix -ter. Ex occurs in both Latin and Greek but it turned out to be iz "out of" in Russian and other Slavic languages. Vagari is apparently behind vagrant, but the connections have not been clearly established. (We could not be too extravagant in expressing our gratitude to Howard Cress for suggesting today's Good Word.)