• martinet •
mart-n-et • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A strict disciplinarian, someone who demands absolute adherence to rules.
Notes: English has a consonant and vowel [n], I have been ignoring the vocalic [n] up until now, but it is so obvious in martinet that I decided to use it today. Martinet comes with an adjective, martinetish and a noun, martinetism. The adjective also allows its own noun, martinetishness.
In Play: This word has long since escaped its military origins (see Word History): "As a father, Bob Steele was a martinet who brooked no violation of his long catalog of house rules." The meaning of this word may stray even farther away from its origins: "Barb Dwyer is a martinet when it comes to money. She is reluctant to spend it for anything other than food and clothing for her children."
Word History: The eponym of today's Good Word is the name of French military officer Jean Martinet, lieutenant colonel in the Régiment du Roi (Regiment of the Royal Guards), who was appointed inspector general of the infantry in 1668. It became his responsibility to enforce the strict drill discipline of the Guard Regiment across the whole infantry. The surname is a diminutive of Latin Martinus, which English borrowed as Martin. Martin was based on Mars, the name of the Roman god of war. The Romans named the planet Mars, no doubt because of the resemblance of its color to blood. The word March comes from the same word, originally meaning "the month of Mars". In Russian and other Slavic languages, it is still mart. (Yet another fascinating Good Word from Rob Towart for which we owe deep gratitude.)