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Pronunciation: fê-li-sê-tee Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Happiness, joy. 2. Good fortune, a boon, or a stroke of luck. 3. Gracefulness, beauty, especially in the use of language.

Notes: Today's Good Word is phonetically so beautiful and bears such a pleasant meaning, that it was once a popular name. Today it is at the center of a family of related words, such as the adjective felicitous and the verb felicitate "to make happy". Should you ever need a synonym of felicitous that rhymes with delicious, you might try felicious (keeping in mind that it hasn't been much used since the 18th century).

In Play: We often wish someone the felicities of a particular holiday or celebration: "Felix dropped by to deliver a bouquet of flowers and wish us every felicity for the Christmas season." However, this word has a particularly felicitous relationship with writing style: "The felicities in Marv Ulla's writing style are so numerous and exquisite as to suggest he may have a brilliant career as a novelist."

Word History: Today's word came from French félicité "happiness", which evolved from Latin felicitas "happy, fortunate". Beneath this noun lies another noun, felix "lucky, auspicious", borrowed as a name in English, as in Felix Unger of Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple", and Felix the Cat, of comic book fame. The root fel- would seem to be related to Latin fellare "to suckle" and to filius "son" and filia "daughter". The same root with a different ancient suffix, -m, may underlie femina "woman", origin of English feminine, and its diminutive femella, which gave us female.

Dr. Goodword,

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