Printable Version
Pronunciation: min-ê-tor-i Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Menacing, threatening, ominous.

Notes: The Latin verb that lies behind minatory also produced several other variations with essentially the same meaning, including minacious and its noun, minacity, minatorial, and menacing itself from the verb menace. All mean approximately the same thing. Minatorily, with the I replacing Y, works as an adverb.

In Play: In its most literal sense, today's Good Word refers to threats that project over or into something: "The minatory clouds hanging over the horizon were the only blemish on an otherwise perfect day in the country." Today, however, the meaning has long since diffused from its literal sense: "Dad was very polite, but the minatory smile on his face made it clear he wanted the garage cleaned in the very near future." You may also use this adjective as a noun indicating a threat of some kind: "The boss sent his minatories to the plant floor to make sure everyone was hard at work."

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from minatoire, the Middle French version of Latin minatorius, an adjective from the verb minari "to threaten". This word comes from a Proto-Indo-European root mon-/men- "to jut out, project". This root is usually found in words referring to parts of the body that jut out, such as Latin mentum "chin" and German Mund "mouth"; in fact, the same root underlies mouth, which lost the N somewhere along the way to Modern English. The O-variant underlies Latin mon(t)s "mountain", which English borrowed from Latin's descendant, French, as mount and mountain. Did you know that amount is related to mountain? It started out as Latin ad montem "to the hill", which Old French converted to amont "uphill, upward". English borrowed this word for its noun amount. (We owe a mountain of gratitude to Lew Jury for suggesting today's unusual word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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