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Pronunciation: læn-yêrd Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A short piece of rope or line used to adjust the rigging of a sailing vessel, for firing a cannon, or various other uses. 2. A cord or ribbon around the neck or wrist holding an object which requires easy access.

Notes: This word originates in the military jargon of both the navy and the army. It is a lexical orphan with no derivational family. It brings no caveats with it aside from the spelling of -yard.

In Play: lanyard Any boatman knows what a nautical lanyard is: "Schiff always checked the rigging thoroughly, even the lanyards, before sailing his ketch." They will also be familiar with the second sense of this word: "He always put a lanyard around his neck bearing his ID before leaving home for the dock."

Word History: Today's Good Word started out as a Middle English adaptation (lanyer) of French lasnier "strap, thong". The word was then converted by folk etymology to lanyard. Old French lasnier comes from earlier nasliere presumably evolved by an odd type of metathesis into lasnier by analogy with las "lace". French apparently borrowed nasliere from a German ancestor of Nestel "lace, tape", perhaps Old High German nestila "lace, strap". The Germanic word comes from PIE ned-/nod- "to tie, knot", source also of English net and Latin nodus "knot" and nexus "tied, bound", the past participle of nectere "to tie, bind". That may be it in Welsh nesu "draw near, approach". (Now a bow to Arnaldo Mandel for recommending today's common enough Good Word with the unexpectedly fascinating history.)

Dr. Goodword,

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