Podcast independence

Printable Version
Pronunciation: in-dê-pen-dêns Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: 1. Freedom from outside influence or control, self-regulation, self-governance. 2. Having sufficient income to support yourself and your family, self-reliant (financial independence).

Notes: Happy 4th of July from alphaDictionary Independence, of course, is the noun derived from the adjective independent. The adjective also has an adverb, independently, a common enough word in our vocabularies. Today those of us in the US celebrate the proclamation of our independence from Great Britain in our aptly named Declaration of Independence. The document declaring the independence of the USA from England was signed just down the road from alphaDictionary's home (Lewisburg, Pennsylvania) in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. You will find biographies of all 56 signers linked to this site, which also contains the Declaration itself.

In Play: Although politically independent, the US finds itself more and more economically dependent on the rest of the world: "As fossil fuel consumption continues to increase, the US needs to find alternative ways back to the energy independence it once enjoyed." While nations and other political entities often strive for independence, so do individuals: "Well, son, while I like your poetry, I doubt it will lead you to financial independence."

Word History: Today's Good Word is composed of in- "un-, not" + dependent. Dependent is the thinly disguised present participle, depend-en(t)s, of the Latin verb dependere "to hang from, depend". This verb is made up of the prefix de- "from" + pendere "to hang". The root pend- of this word came from PIE (s)pen-/(s)pon- "to pull, stretch", source also of Latin pondere "to weigh, ponder", which English revised as ponder "to weigh" (an idea). We see it in Geek ponos "toil", Armenian henum "I weave", Lithuanian spendžiu, spęsti "set traps", German spannen "to stretch; tension", English span "a stretch", Serbian peta "heel", and Russian pyatka "heel" (from pent(k)a). Today is a wonderful day to ponder all the benefits of the independence and freedoms we enjoy every day.

Dr. Goodword,

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