Printable Version
Pronunciation: in-vên-tor-ri Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. The entire count of items of a single category, such as stock of a business. 2. A list of the entire count of items of a single category, such as stock of a business. 3. (North America) A discrete quantity of products held in stock.

Notes: We can easily see that invention is a distant cousin of today's Good Word; see Word History for how they became that. We do have an adjective, inventorial, meaning "related to inventories" with an accompanying adverb, inventorially. That's it.

In Play: This word usually refers to all the items of a single category: "When Ruby checked the contents of her jewel box against the inventory she kept, she found that several pieces were missing." However, the category may be limited if defined: "Walmart can sell its inventory of a train car load of goods within 30 days and use the profits to pay for the carload."

Word History: Inventory was adapted from Old French inventoire "catalogue of items" (Modern French inventaire), from Medieval Latin inventorium, an alteration of classical Latin inventarium "list, inventory". This word is based on Latin inventus, the past participle of invenire "to find, discover, ascertain". We can see how the semantics of this word could also easily lead to inventio(n) "invention". Invenire contains a prefix in- "in, (up)on" + venire "to come". The sense of discovery comes from the same relation as the English phrase "to come upon". Venire was inherited from a suffixed form of PIE word gwa- "to go, come", origin also of English go. With the suffix -m, it also became come in English. It also turns up in Latvian as gāja "went", in Lithuanian progā "moment, occasion" (pro-gā). (Now for a word of gratitude to newcomer Barrett Disney for sharing this Good Word from a rich lexical inventory with us today.)

Dr. Goodword,

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