Printable Version
Pronunciation: lê-ment Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive, Noun

Meaning: 1. [Verb] To express grief, mourning, sorrow. 2. [Verb] To regret, feel grief or sorrow. 3. [Noun] A written or oral expression of grief or mourning, such as a poem or song.

Notes: Today's word has a rich if not happy family. The noun is derived from the verb, which also gave us lamentation "the process of lamenting" and lamenter "a person who laments". The active adjective is lamenting, as the lamenting son, and the passive adjective is lamentable "deserving to be lamented", i.e. pitiful, unfortunate.

In Play: Today's word is good for any situation involving regret or sorrow, "Everyone laments the loss of critical information caused by replacing the water cooler with fountains in the hall." A lamentation is usually reserved for a major tragedy, but laments may be more modest: "It was lamentable that Madeleine forgot to set the emergency brake when she parked her car at the top of the hill, but leaving the gear in neutral was lamented even more."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a rubbing of Old French lamenter, the descendant of the Latin adjective lamentarius "mournful, tearful", based on the noun lamentum "lament". The origin of this word is a bit mysterious. Apparently it contains an older root la- + the suffix -ment, mentioned in our Good Word mantra. The root la- underlies Armenian lam "to cry", Albanian leh "bark, bay", and Russian layat' "to bark". This root, however, seems to have avoided Germanic languages, except in today's borrowed Good Word, so interesting connections with English are not to be found.

Dr. Goodword,

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