• inveterate •
in-vet-êr-êt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Firmly established by survival over a long period of time, confirmed by longevity, deep-rooted. 2. Deeply ingrained, strongly habitual.
Notes: This word may be used as an adverb with the appropriate suffix, inveterately, and it offers two nouns to choose from: inveterateness and inveteracy. As with all adjectives ending on -ate, be careful not to accidentally replace this suffix with -ant.
In Play: This word originally referred to anything established by great age: "Melanie loved to spend lazy summer afternoons reading in the shade of the inveterate willow in her backyard." In people, it refers to a long-standing passion or habit: "Perry Winkle is an inveterate gardener who can tell you the common and botanical names and the eponyms of the names of all the flowers in his garden—and yours, too, probably."
Word History: Today's Good Word originated in Latin inveteratus "established, having aged", the past participle of inveterare "to grow old, endure". This verb consists of in- "cause to become" + veter "old". The original root of today's word was Proto-Indo-European wet- "year". It picked up the suffix -er in English and landed on our lips as wether "gelded ram" (perhaps originally "yearling") as in bellwether (careful with the spelling). Latin veterinus "cattle", origin of our word veterinary, also came from this word since the attention of veterinarians generally falls on old animals. This root also underlies vitellus "calf", a word smoothed down to veal in Old French and then to the veau [vo] "calf" of Modern French. Quite the lexical sandpaper, French is.
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