Printable Version
Pronunciation: hahlt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: (Archaic, but still used occasionally where appropriate) Lame, crippled, limping.

Notes: Today's adjective is heard now only infrequently, but no less so than the verb it came from. The ancestor of the verb halt arose in the ninth century when it meant "to limp". This adjective is often used as a noun meaning "the lame collectively": the infirm and halt.

In Play: While rare, we still read things like this: "After he accidentally stepped in a bear trap, Louis was halt for several years." We may even use it figuratively: "None of Barb Dwyer's halt arguments convinced anyone."

Word History: Today's Good Word in Old English was healtian and in Middle English halten "to limp". This word started out as something like Proto-Indo-European kel-d- "broken" from the root kel- "to strike, break", with derivatives meaning "something broken or cut off". The PIE word is the source also of Russian koldyka "lame person", Greek kolos "cracked, chopped off", and Armenian kał "lame". French borrowed the English word as halter, changing its meaning "to stop". English borrowed the word back with that meaning in the 17th century. Modern French retains only the noun halte "(a) stop", as in faire halte "to make a stop".

Dr. Goodword,

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