Printable Version
Pronunciation: hor-dê-to-ri Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Exhorting, rousingly urging or encouraging, strongly entreating (with stirring speech).

Notes: This word has a far less often used synonym, hortative. These two words correspond to exhortatory and exhortative from the verb exhort. There is no verb hort, though a few centuries ago hortation and hortator occasionally arose in writings.

In Play: A hortatory message must be strong and uplifting: "The bank relied on hortatory e-mails and text messages to encourage its employees to comply with the voluntary masking mandate." It is useful in referring to statesman-like speeches of politicians: "Jerry Mander's speech was filled with hortatory platitudes but no firm commitments to any of the issues."

Word History: Today's Good Word was taken directly from Latin hortatorius "encouraging", derived from the verb hortor "to urge strongly, exhort". Latin had another verb, exhort, with pretty much the same meaning. The ex- at the beginning of exhort simply reflects the intensity of its meaning. Latin made hortor out of PIE gher-/ghor- "to like, want", source also of English yearn, which was giernan in Old English. This PIE word went into the making of Sanskrit haryati "finds pleasure in, likes" and Greek khairein "to rejoice, take delight in". Russian zhar "heat, fervor, spirit" only kept the semantic intensity that seems to have haunted the PIE word. (Today we owe gratitude to our long-time Good Word editor, Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira, who actually suggested hortative but, since it is less often used than its synonym, it played a lesser role in today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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