Printable Version
Pronunciation: fên-dê-mênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. The base of anything, the foundation, the part of a thing upon which it rests. 2. The lower part of the body upon which we sit; the buttocks, bum, buns, booty.

Notes: The adjective of this now rare word is one of the commonest in the English language: fundamental. In fact, we use it as a noun referring to the basics (again the adjective for base) for abstractions: the fundamentals.

In Play: The meaning of fundament isn't that far removed from foundation: "The fundament of his entire theory was that humans are basically good." However, the second meaning of foundation is the base of cosmetics; the second meaning of fundament is far, far removed from that sense: "Don't just sit there on your fundament. Get to work!"

Word History: In Middle English today's Good Word was foundement, taken whole from Old French fondement, from Latin fundamentum. The Latin word was the noun of fundare "to found". Latin inherited this word from the PIE root bhu(n)d- "bottom", with a Fickle N, that is sometimes there, sometimes not. Without it, we find Sanskrit budhnah "bottom," Greek pythmen "foundation", and English bottom, from Old English botm and Middle English botme. (Today our gratitude for suggesting this Good Word is owed Eric Berntson, a Lexiterian in our Agora who has a strong fundament in words.)

Dr. Goodword,

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