Printable Version
Pronunciation: fêr-thêr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, adverb (comparative), verb

Meaning: 1. More distant in degree, time, or space, beyond, as 'the further gas station'. 2. Additional, as 'a further delay'. 3. (Verb) To advance, move forward, facilitate.

Notes: Further and farther are comparatives of far, synonyms in the adjectival and adverbial senses. Recently, however, a usage rule of thumb has popped up that we should use farther to refer to physical distances, reserving further for abstract distances, e.g. 'drive a mile farther' versus 'one further comment'. There is no historical basis for such a rule. The superlative of today's word is furthest.

In Play: Following the recent usage rule of thumb, we might say: "I will make but one comment further, Melbourne's house is the farther one, not the nearer." We may also use this word as a verb in such sentences as: "Constance Noring works to further her own best interests rather than the customers'."

Word History: Today's Good Word reflects an ultimate source in PIE por-ter-, source also of Greek protos "first, foremost", borrowed by English as a prefix in such words as Proto-Indo-European. This hypothetical root of this derivation is a reduced form of per-/por- "forward, before" that produced prepositions in all Indo-European languages: English for, German vor "before", French pour "for", Russian pered "before, in front of", Latin pro "for", and dozens more. However, it also went into the making of other parts of speech, like English first, and privus "single, alone", whence English privy and private. (Without further ado, let's all thank our long-time contributor William Hupy for today's sometimes confusing Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!