Printable Version
Pronunciation: ish-yu Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. That which comes forth, comes out, comes up, as in 'an issue of fluid from the body' or 'the issue of a river to the sea.' 2. That which comes out, is published to be offered for sale, as 'a magazine, stamp, or bond issue'. 3. Something that comes up, a topic of conversation, a question, as 'a legal issue' or 'an issue discussed at a meeting'. 4. Offspring, progeny, as 'to die without issue'. 5. (US Slang) A problem, as 'there are issues with the program'.

Notes: I have tried to capture the broadest sense of the word in the first definition, then to show how this sense is retained in all the other nuances of the word. This word is as often used as a verb: to issue a warrant, to issue supplies. This noun comes with two adjectives, issuant and issueless. The verbal sense permits issuance, a Latinate noun meaning "issuing".

In Play: The most general sense of today's Good Word is this: "The issue here is how do we get the mess cleaned up and not who made it." However, in the US at least, issue is fast becoming a euphemism for problem: "Constance Noring has become an issue the company has to deal with."

Word History: Today's word comes from Old French issue "a way out, an exit", the past participle of issir "to go out". Old French inherited this word from Latin exire, which is a combination of ex- "out (of)" + ire "to go". The Latin verb ire comes from the Proto-Indo-European root ei- "to go", which we also see in Sanskrit eiti "goes", Greek eimi "to go", Lithuanian eiti "to go", Latvian eit "to go", Russian idti "to go/come" and idu "I go/come", Hindi jaana "to go", Marathi ja "to go". That is it in janitor, too, from Latin ianitor "doorkeeper", made up of ian(ua) "door" + it- "go" + -or, a personal noun suffix. Irish bóthar "a road" originally meant "cow's way" from bou- "cow" + itro- "way"—no disparagement intended of modern Irish roads. (Now let us show our gratitude to Dave Schneider, who issued the suggestion of today's quite interesting Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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