Printable Version
Pronunciation: in-eks-êr-ê-bêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Unswerving, relentless, inevitable, that cannot be avoided or averted. 2. Cannot be persuaded or cannot be dissuaded from a certain course of action, as 'an inexorable mayor'.

Notes: Today's Good Word is being abandoned by its family if it is not, in fact, already a lexical orphan. You can find its father, exorate "to persuade, get by persuasion", only in dictionaries like the Oxford English and Century dictionaries that carry archaic words. The positive adjective exorable "persuadable, avoidable" has been created by back-forming it from inexorable. These words are used only in jest, however, when they are used at all. The adverb of this adjective is inexorably. The noun is inexorability, created like all nouns ending on -able, by adding the suffix -ity.

In Play: The best way to use today's Good Word is as an industrial-strength substitute for inevitable: "Phil Anders found it difficult to face the inexorable fact that younger women were finding him less and less attractive as the years droned by." Things inexorable tend to be dreaded: "Lil Twitt became less and less socially visible as her 50th birthday drew inexorably closer."

Word History: Today's word goes back, through French, to the Latin adjective inexorabilis, comprising the negative prefix in- "not, un-" + exorabilis "pliant, persuadable". Exorabilis is an adjective derived from the verb exorare "to prevail upon", made up of ex "out of" + orare "to speak, plead". This verb, of course, also gave us orator, oration, oratorio, and oracle. The roots of these words comes from the PIE root or- "to pronounce a ritual formula", source also of Sanskrit aryanti "they praise" and Russian orat' "to shout, yell". It is also the source of Latin os, oris "mouth", underlying the English borrowing oral and all the other Latinate borrowings mentioned above. (It is now our pleasantly inexorable duty to thank one of the Grand Panjandrums of the Alpha Agora Luke Javan for suggesting today's lexically delightful Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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