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Pronunciation: in-ê-mê-rah-to Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A male lover, a man with whom you are in love. A woman with whom you are in love is an inamorata, the feminine form of the noun.

Notes: The Italian language keeps pretty good tabs on males and females. The word for "baby" can be either bimbo, if the baby is a boy, or bimba, if it is a girl. English, of course, does not pay close attention to this distinction, and continues to use bimbo to refer disparagingly to a female lover only. The use of suffixes like -ette and -ess to distinguish females from males is now harshly frowned upon. However, we do continue to differentiate between those with whom we are in love, as pointed out above in the Meaning.

In Play: Now that boyfriend and girlfriend have become ambiguous, today's Good Words are all the more useful: "Not only has Ally Mooney not remarried, she doesn't even have an inamorato that I am aware of." These words very clearly identify someone whom we don't simply love but are in love with: "The latest inamorata of William Arami is Marian Kine; they were made for each other."

Word History: Today's Good Word is actually the Italian word innamorato "beloved", the past participle of innamorare "to enamor" based on in "in(to)" + amore "love". Participles behave like adjectives (compare English loving and loved), and each Italian adjective usually has a masculine and feminine form. Now, since adjectives may also be used as nouns (the rich, the poor), Italian has two such nouns, masculine and feminine, for every one English has: beloved=inamorato, inamorata. The Italian verb is the direct descendant of Latin amare "to love". We no more know where this word comes from than we do where love itself comes from. Our best guess is that it was based on the universal word mama, which some children pronounce amma. I can think of no better origin for so important a word.

Dr. Goodword,

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