Printable Version
Pronunciation: hai-lait Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, verb

Meaning: 1, (Noun) A brighter, more illuminated spot on something. 2. (Noun) A report of an outstanding part of something like a game, speech, or other event. 3. (Verb) Emphasize, make more prominent. 4. (Verb) Select a passage in an electronic text for editing or in a hard copy to mark text to catch attention.

Notes: Here is a compound with both a literal and figurative sense. It is authentically (unborrowed) English because we use the present participle, highlighting, as an adjective and action noun. Highlighter usually refers to a broad-tipped marker pen or a cosmetic that emphasizes facial features.

In Play: The literal sense of highlight appears in sentences like this: "Angela didn't really believe that blondes have more fun, but just to make sure she added blond highlights to her brunette hair." The figurative sense emerges in expressions like this: "Evans overcomes the impulse to watch congressional hearings, knowing highlights of them will be rebroadcast on the evening news."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a compound made up of high + light. High is cousin to Dutch hoog and German hoch, so it must come from a Proto-Indo-European (PIE) word with E-O variants like kewk-/kowk- "high". This origin would also fit Swedish hog, Norwegian høy, Icelandic hár, Lithuanian kaukas "bump, boil", and Russian kucha "pile, heap, stack". Light is a remnant of PIE lewk-/lowk- "light", cousin of German Licht, Dutch licht, Swedish ljus, and a distant cousin of Ancient Greek leukos "white", Latin lux (luk-s), Russian luch "ray, beam", Armenian luys, Scots Gaelic leus "ray, torch, blister" and, believe it or not, Persian roxš.

Dr. Goodword,

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