Printable Version
Pronunciation: haid-bæwnd Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Inflexibly narrow-minded, unpersuadably prejudiced. 2. (Animals) Having dry, stiff skin that cannot be raised with the fingers as a result of emaciation. 3. (Trees) Having bark so unyielding as to hinder growth.

Notes: Someone once tried hidebounded back in the 17th century but it didn't take. There is no noun either, though hideboundness suggests itself. Today's Good Word is a lexical orphan.

In Play: The first definition above is the only one given in several major English dictionaries: "Politics in America is hindered by hidebound traditionalists, bigots, and ignoramuses." People aren't the only thing that may be hidebound: "Wilbur blamed a hidebound bureaucracy for blocking his idea to manufacture an electric fork to go along with the electric knife the company was already producing."

Word History: Today's Good Word started its life with the number 2 meaning above. The first meaning developed from its figurative use. It is obviously a compound adjective made up of hide + bound, the past participle of bind. Hide is cousin to its equivalent in other Germanic languages: Danish and Swedish hud, Dutch huid, and German Haut. It descended from PIE (s)keu- "to cover, conceal", source also of the English verb (to) hide. We also see traces of it in Latin cutis "skin", Lithuanian kiautas "shell, peal", Old Norse (Viking) sky "cloud", Armenian ciw "roof", and Welsh cuddio "to hide". Bind goes back to PIE bhendh- "to bind, tie", source also of Sanskrit bandhati "(s/he, it) ties", Dutch and German binden "to tie", Danish binde "to tie". It apparently appeared in an early Latin verb fendere, a primitive verb found only in derivations like defendere "to ward off, repel" and offendere "to hit". (Now let's salute Susan Maynard for spotting the interesting aspects of today's simple Good Word and sharing it with us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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