Printable Version
Pronunciation: myut-ê-bêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Liable to or capable of change, changeable.

Notes: The negative of today's Good Word, immutable, is probably more familiar than this word. Both are derived from a borrowed verb, mutate. Frequently the verbal suffix -ate is dropped from verb before the adjective suffix -ible or -able: educable, explicable, and implacable are some others. The adverb for this verb is mutably and the noun, mutability.

In Play: Today's word is a a bit more sophisticated than its synonym "changeable": "Leroy's position on this point is mutable; he is such a milquetoast." I fear it is being overpowered by its antonym, immutable: "Children are so mutable that good parenting is essential."

Word History: Today's word came to English through French from Latin mutabilis "changeable", based on the verb mutare "to change". The past participle of this verb is mutatus "changed"; English built its verb, mutate, on this form of the verb. This root seems to have come from a PIE verb moi-/mei "to change, move", for it shows up in many forms across Indo-European languages: Sanskrit methati "changes", Hittite mutai- "be changed into", Russian menyat' "to (ex)change". English common came from the PIE form kom- "(together) with" + moi-n- "change, exchange", originally "exchanged together (with all). (Our gratitude for William Hupy's contribution of his many Good Word suggestions is absolutely immutable.)

Dr. Goodword,

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