Printable Version
Pronunciation: je-pêr-di Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: 1. Peril, danger of loss, harm or failure. 2. (Law) Danger of conviction when on trial.

Notes: This noun has two rarely used adjectives, jeopardous and jeopardless. It has a very active verb, though: jeopardize. Don't forget the gratuitous O that comes after the E.

In Play: The general sense of today's words may be found in sentences like this: "Phil Anders put his future with the company in mortal jeopardy when he made a pass at the new president of the firm." The legal sense of the word is closely connected with double jeopardy, the trial of someone twice for the same criime. Double jeopardy is, of course, illegal.

Word History: This word descended from Middle English juparti "danger, risk" from Old French jeu parti "a 50-50, even risk game", hence "uncertainty". The phrase is a combination of jeu "a game" + parti "divided", the past participle of partir "to divide, separate". Jeu is all that's left of Latin iocus "jest, joke" (whence English joke). Italian gioco, Portuguese jogo, and Spanish juego, all meaning "game", are the offspring of the same Latin word. Latin inherited its word from PIE iek-/iok- "to speak, utterance", which also turns up in Lithuanian juokas "joke" and Latvian joks "joke". French partir resulted from Latin partire "to share, divide up", a verb derived from par(t)s "a part, a share". Latin inherited this one from PIE root per-/por- "to grant, allot, sell", which it converted to pars and portio. English borrowed the whole family of pars, e.g. part, apart, department and many, many more. Portio was borrowed as portion. (Jackie Strauss of Philadelphia is in no jeopardy of missing our gratitude for today's historically fascinating Good Word. )

Dr. Goodword,

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