Printable Version
Pronunciation: fæk-shês Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Troubled by internal dissention, especially disputes among factions within a group or organization.

Notes: Today's Good Word is an adjective based on the same stem we find in faction. Factions are, of course, distinguished by differences of opinions and such differences often cause friction. The adverb is simply factiously and the noun, factiousness. Do not confuse this adjective with fractious "argumentative, stubborn, peevish"; the R makes a significant difference. This word refers mostly to individuals or things as a whole; factious refers to internal disharmony between parts or partisan factions.

In Play: Internal conflicts arising from friction among factions beg for today's Good Word: "The faculty council has become so factious that it is impossible for it to come to any agreement." It would be difficult to find an organization without some degree of factiousness: "If the United States is a melting pot of cultures, the process of melting is a factious one, indeed."

Word History: Today's word is a modest adaptation of Latin factiosus "factious, seditious", based on factio(n) "faction, party, partisanship". Both these words are based on factus, the past participle of facere "do, make". This Latin word goes back to the Proto-Indo-European root dho-/dhe "do, make" which came to English as do and words derived from it, such as deed (something done) and doom (judgment: a done deed?) The same root turns up in the name of the Russian parliament, the Duma, probably from the same sense of "judgment". In Greek we see it in thema "proposition", which appears in several English words borrowed from Greek, including theme and thesis. (There was nothing factious in T. P. Duffy's decision to suggest this Good Word; we all agree it was a good idea.)

Dr. Goodword,

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