Printable Version
Pronunciation: je-zhu-wit-i-kêl, je-zju-wit-i-kêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Related in any way to the Jesuits, members of the Roman Catholic Society of Jesus, founded in 1533 by Ignatius Loyola to combat the Protestantism of the Reformation. 2. Excessively subtle, deceitful, intended to mislead.

Notes: This is the adjective for the proper noun Jesuit. Their enemies accused them of believing that the end justifies the means, hence the sense "a dissembling person", and jesuitical "deceitful". This word may be capitalized (Jesuitical) or not, but the noun, Jesuit, must be. The adverb form is jesuitically (or Jesuitically), and the abstract noun, jesuitism (or Jesuitism).

In Play: This word haunts the world of advertising: "An advertising campaign in the US is, at best, jesuitical and, at worst, obviously misleading." However, we find things jesuitical all around us: "On Meet the Press, Sunday January 13, 2008, after he asked the same question for 23 minutes in minutely different formulations, Hillary Clinton chastised Tim Russert for his jesuitical interview technique."

Word History: Today's Good Word is based on the name of Jesus, French Jsuite, from Jsus, inherited from Late Latin Iesus. Latin borrowed the word from Greek Iesous, a remodeling of Hebrew yeshua', a reduction of yêhoshua' "Joshua". Yahweh, the name of the God of Israel, is assumed to share the same origin. It came to be English Jehovah. The expression, 'jumping Jehosophat' is based on another variant, Jehoshophat, from the Hebrew yehoshapat "Yahweh has judged", made up of yeho, shortened form of Yahweh, + shapat "has judged". (Our gratitude to George Kovac for recommending today's Good Word is far from jesuitical.)

Dr. Goodword,

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