Printable Version
Pronunciation: fê-si-lê-tee Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Ease of doing something, a gift or talent, as 'to have a facility for acquiring foreign languages'. 2. Something designed to accommodate an activity or make it easier to carry out, as medical facilities in a hospital or parking facilities in a city.

Notes: Today's word in its second sense is generally used in the plural, as reflected in the examples above. Remember to convert the [y] to [ie] before the -s: facilities. Other than that, we need to avoid confusing this word with faculty, an ability or power to do something, especially a mental capacity. Someone with a facility to learn language can learn new languages easily. Someone with a faculty for learning language simply has the ability; it may still be hard work for them.

In Play: Remember that facility has always been associated with ease of doing something: "Rocky Rhodes must be a trained contortionist; he seems to have a facility for sticking his foot in his mouth." Artifacts that make our life easier are also facilities: "We have a good library but the copying facilities in the building can't handle the demand when term papers fall due."

Word History: Today's Good Word came to us, via Old French, from Latin facilis "easy". The Latin word originated in PIE dho-/dhe- which came directly down to English as do and is also found in deed "a thing done", and doom. Initial PIE [dh] emerged in Latin as [f], giving facere "to make, to do". This root turns up in dozens of words aside from today's Good Word, such as fact and all the words ending with -fect, such as defect, perfect, and infect. English facile is based on the same Latin word, as are Portuguese and Spanish fácil, and Italian and French facile—all meaning "easy". In Greek it turns up in thesis "a placement or placing" from tithenai "to put".

Dr. Goodword,

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