Printable Version
Pronunciation: in-kred-jê-lês Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Skeptical, suspicious, unwilling to believe.

Notes: Today's word is very similar to another word sharing the same origin, incredible. It means "not to be believed, beyond belief". Careful not to confuse the two. The noun that accompanies today's word is incredulity [in-kred-ju-lê-ti], as 'to greet an incredible story with incredulity'.

In Play: People are incredulous, stories are incredible: "It would be incredible if Denise Hirt became a great skier, but I remain incredulous until I see her in action." This adjective is usually accompanied by the preposition of or at when it takes an object: "Sandy Beech was incredulous at the prospects of snow in Florida until it filled his hot tub."

Word History: Today's word is the English adaptation of Latin incredulus with the same meaning. It is made up of in- "not" + credulus "believing, trustful", an adjective from the verb credere "to believe". The first person singular of credere is credo "I believe", used today in its original form, credo "belief" and nativized as creed "a system of belief". Etymologists tend to believe that the Latin root came from an older derivation kerd-dhe- "to believe", based on kerd- "heart", possibly from the sense of putting one's heart into something. This speculation is supported by a Sanskrit derivation srad-dha- "faith". Kerd- is the source of English heart, German Herz, French coeur, Portuguese coração, Spanish corazón, and Russian serdce, among others—all meaning "heart".

Dr. Goodword,

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