• nether •
ne-dhêr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective, Adverb
Meaning: 1. (Adjective) Low, lower. 2. Under, below, beneath.
Notes: Today's Good Word is seldom used nowadays despite its sheer beauty. It has but one derivation, netherward(s) "downwards"; however, it does occur in three compounds: netherworld, nethermost, and Netherlands.
In Play: If you need an extremely civil way to refer to your private parts, try this: "Her miniskirt was so short as to expose her nether regions when she sat." I've always liked nethermost as a word that stands out in any conversation: "My cabin was cheap, but it was located in the nethermost bowels of the ship: next to the engine room."
Word History: Today's word in Old English was nithera "down, below" from Proto-Germanic nitheraz, which also emerged as Dutch neder and German nieder. It comes originally from the comparative of PIE ni "down, below", which we see in Sanskrit ni "down" and nitaram "downward", Greek neiothen "from below", and Russian niz "bottom, underside" and nizhnij "lower". We also find the remnants of the comparative in English beneath, underneath, and Netherlands, the nethermost of the Low Countries.
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