Printable Version
Pronunciation: med-o Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A flat plot of land covered with grass, usually set aside for grazing cattle or mown for its hay.

Notes: Today's Good Word is an authentic English word—not borrowed from any other. It is also a very beautiful one that might well have been included in The 100 Most Beautiful Words in English. It is so beautiful that it has been adopted as a family name, Meadows, as in Audrey Meadows, the actress. It comes with several derivatives, including meadowy "like a meadow, having meadows" and meadowless "without a meadow". Meadowage is rarely used but may refer to the amount of meadowland someone owns or the rent paid by someone else to use it.

In Play: Without trees or shrubbery, meadows are likely to attract wildflowers: "Charlotte Russe loves nothing better than a picnic in a flowery meadow on a balmy summer day." Just be careful, Charlotte, various types of livestock often consider meadows their property. That is because meadows are often used for pastures: "The Alpine valley was patched with meadows dotted with half-dozing cows grazing lazily."

Word History: Today's Good Word is an extension of mead "meadow". In Proto-Germanic it was probably mædwon, for we find it as Dutch made and German Matte. It is related to Old English mæð "crop, harvest", derived from mawen "to mow". This word comes from a Proto-Indo-European root, me-/mo- "mow", which not only turns up in related languages like Dutch maaien and German mähen "to mow," but in other Indo-European languages as well, such as Latin metere (still mietere today in Italian) and Welsh medi. (We can only wish Claudia Riiff Finseth a meadowy picnic in gratitude for reminding us of this very beautiful Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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