Printable Version
Pronunciation: lê-jit Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, adverb

Meaning: 1. Legitimate, legal. 2. Genuine, true, actual. 3. Justified, fair, straight, alright. 4. (Adverb) Really, for real, actually.

Notes: Today's word is a clipping of legitimate which has taken off on its own. Usually, clippings retain the meaning of the unclipped form, like: phone : telephone, chute : parachute, exam : examination. Initially, this word followed the pattern as seen in Meaning No. 1; however, since its emergence it has wandered afar.

In Play: In the second sense, utterances like this emerge every day: "Wyatt Herz seldom misses a game due to a legit injury." In the third sense above, we might hear something like this: "Siddy Hall is one of the legit politicians in office today."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a clipping of legitimate, a polished up version of Latin legitimatus "made lawful" of the verb legitimare "to make lawful". This verb is based on legitimus "lawful", an adjective based on lex, legis "law'. Legis came from that fascinating Proto-Indo-European word leg-/log- which emerged in Greek as logos "speech, word, idea". The Greek root also gave us lexicon and lexical. The best guess as to how the meanings "word" and "law" crossed paths is that this root goes back to the day when a king's word was the law. The most interesting derivation of this word is the purely English leech, which derives from Old English laece "doctor, physician". The connection must have been with the predecessors of physicians today who resorted to leeches and magic incantations to cure ailments (Now let's thank Ana Jung, a prolific contributor for the past two years, for spotting the interest in today's Good Word and sharing it with us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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