Printable Version
Pronunciation: in-dyê-rit Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Hardened, as clay or metal. 2. Hard-hearted, toughened, insensitive, jaded.

Notes: Indurate may be used as a verb itself if we pronounce it differently: in-dyu-rayt. Much like the adjective, it means to harden literally (to indurate steel or clay) or figuratively (to indurate the heart). The action of hardening is induration, and to do something hard-heartedly is to do it indurately. While the meaning of indurate is similar to obdurate, the former is used more often to mean "hardened, jaded" while the latter more often means "stubborn".

In Play: The basic meaning of this Good Word is "hardened" in the literal sense: "The clay in the cliff had become indurate from the extremes in temperature shifts of the region." However, it is probably used more frequently in its figurative sense of "toughened": "Years of living under his wife's heel had left Luke Worme milquetoast at home but an indurate bully at work."

Word History: This word goes back to an earlier Proto-Indo-European root deru- "firm, solid". Rs in Indo-European languages are subject to the process of metathesis, switching places with a preceding vowel. So, somewhere along the derivational line, deru- became dreu-, and went on to become Serbian drevo and Russian derevo "tree, wood". It made its way through Old Germanic to English as tree, too. Other variants descended to Modern English as truth and trust. Latin converted the PIE original to durus "hard", which Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian inherited as duro, and French as dur "hard". We see this root in the English borrowings duress and durable. In Celtic, we find the metathesized root dru- "strong". When you combine this word with wid- "to see" (akin to Latin video "I see"), the result is druwid- "strong seer". This is probably how druid originated. (We are certainly not so indurate as to forget to thank Mark Bailey for suggesting today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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