Printable Version
Pronunciation: gê-mut-lik Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Pleasant, amiable, friendly.

Notes: Today's Good Word was borrowed from German in the middle of the 19th century but its use has been so limited that some still spell it the German way, either gemütlich or gemuetlich. It is a good way to add a German flavor to your conversation should you have reason to do so. The noun for this word, gemütlichkeit, is almost always written with the 'umlaut' over the U, an indication that it isn't a fully assimilated English word.

In Play: Today's adjective applies to people who are simply pleasant all the time: "Molly Coddle is a rosy-cheeked, zaftig, gemutlich young woman to whom everyone is immediately attracted." (Why limit yourself to English?) However, it also describes places and things that bring pleasure: "The decor of Lacie Curtain's apartment was so gemutlich that I found myself immediately at home there."

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Middle High German gemüetlich (Modern German gemütlich), derived from gemüete "spirit, feelings". The root here, müet, came from Old High German muot "mind, spirit, joy", the same word that became mood in English. This word is probably related to the Latin word men(t)s "mind" that we find in mental, but showing the effects of our old friend, the Fickle N that comes and goes mysteriously across Indo-European languages. (Today we must be grateful to the ever gemütlich Carla Puky for finding today's Good Word for us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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