Printable Version
Pronunciation: jêk-stê-poz Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: To place side by side, especially to compare or contrast.

Notes: We are often juxtaposing one thing with another in order to see if they are similar or different. This activity is juxtaposition. This noun today is often used as a synonym of the verb, to juxtaposition two things. Naughty, naughty! If we juxtapose the verb juxtapose and the noun juxtaposition, we can see that they are quite different. Let's keep them that way. If you absolutely have to have an adjective, use juxtapositive, as a juxtapositive attempt to show that two things are different.

In Play: We probably use today's Good Word more to point out differences than similarities: "Juxtaposing liberal Democrat Jerry Mander and conservative Correy Publican at the dinner table produced fiery if not revealing conversation." However, juxtaposition may just as well reveal similarity: "I think that if her behavior and her mother's were juxtaposed, you will find that most of her genes come from her maternal side."

Word History: Today's word is the English version of French juxtaposer, created from Latin juxta "near" + poser "to put, place". Latin juxta seems to be a reduction of some adverb jugista, which hasn't been preserved in writing, but would make sense as an adverb from jugis "joined together" from the verb jungere "to join together". The past participle of this verb is junctus, which underlies our borrowed word junction. The Proto-Indo-European word behind the Latin verb turned up in Sanskrit as jugum "yoke" and yoga "union". In Russian it became igo "yoke' and, of course, in English yoke. One final note: Latin jugularis "related to the collarbone" is based on another derivation from this word: jugulum "collarbone, throat, neck". This is the origin of English jugular, as in the jugular vein. (If we juxtapose Susan Ardith Lee's suggestion of today's Good Word with similar suggestions by other subscribers, we will find we owe her just as much gratitude as we have expressed to them.)

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!