Printable Version
Pronunciation: in-sê-rek-shên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Insurgence, rebellion, a violent uprising, usually to overthrow an authority or government.

Notes: Today's Good Word is the action noun for an obsolete verb, insurrect. The principle of revolt against a constituted authority is insurrectionism, which is insurrectional or insurrectionary (the adjectives). A person involved in an insurrection is known as an insurrector or, more interestingly, an insurrecto.

In Play: We had a stunning insurrection that briefly took over the Capitol building recently: "The president-elect deemed the mob attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 an insurrection." However, some think they may be used to defend an authority: "The Minister of Education called for a popular insurrection to defend the government."

Word History: Insurrection was borrowed directly from Latin insurrectio(n) "an uprising, a rising up", the action noun based on the past participle of the verb insurgere "to rise up". This verb consists of the prefix in- "in, on" + surgere "to arise, ascend", origin also of English surge. This word seems to have originally been sub- "(from) under" + reg- "to keep straight, lead right, guide, direct, control". We have encountered reg before, in regular, rule, the Old French version of Latin regula "strait stick", and regal. "Straightness, correctness" seems to be the underlying meaning, because of the two senses of another Old French borrowing, ruler: "a measuring stick" and "a king or queen". Kings and queens are supposed to lead their constituents along the straight and narrow. Well, we've seen how that turned out. Resurrection has the same relation to Latin resurgere "to rise again".

Dr. Goodword,

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