Printable Version
Pronunciation: in-ik-stri-kê-bêl, in-ek-stri-kê-bêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: So complicated as to preclude escape or removal.

Notes: This Good Word is the negative of an adjective derived from the verb extricate "to remove, get something out". Notice that when the suffix -able is added to this verb, extric-ate + -able, the verbal suffix -ate drops out. This happens in a lot of English words: exterminate - exterminable, educate - educable. Also watch out for the disagreement between the UK and US on how this word is pronounced. In the US the accent goes on the third syllable, [in-ik-stri-kê-bêl], but in the UK, it falls on the second [in-ek-stri-kê-bêl].

In Play: Although we do have a positive version of today's word, extricable, meaning "capable of removal or escape", the negative form is used most often: "When Phil Anders accidentally invited both Maude Lynn Dresser and Marian Kine to the same dinner party, he found himself in an inextricable situation." Contracts often land us in inextricable positions: "Even though Ludwig had been offered a better job, his contract inextricably bound him to continue his current job for another year."

Word History: Extricate was made out of extricatus, the past participle of the Latin verb extricare "to disentangle, extricate by trick". This verb came from the phrase ex "out of" + tricae "trifles; tricks, wiles". Tricae, like trico "trickster", came from the verb tricor "to trick, deceive". This verb turned into trichier in Norman French (tricher in Modern French). The action noun from trichier was trique, which English borrowed and recrafted into the more English-looking trick. (I feel myself inextricably bound to thank Doug Smith for suggesting today's Good word; it really did the trick.)

Dr. Goodword,

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