Printable Version
Pronunciation: noy-sêm Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Unpleasant, annoying, bothersome. 2. Offensive, disagreeable, foul-smelling, repulsive.

Notes: Here is another lexical curve ball for this word has nothing to do with "noise" as you might expect (see Word History). Its alternate spelling, noisesome, only adds to the confusion. It is remindful of restive, which actually means "fidgety". Don't let either of these false cognates throw you. Once the meaning is under control, we can also use the adverb, noisomely, and the noun, noisomeness.

In Play: Today's Good Word, as we shall see below, is actually related to annoy, and that is the sense in which it is most often used: "Sue Persilias tired of the noisome advances of Phil Anders and finally stopped returning his calls." The oddest thing, however, is that the annoyance most likely comes from smell, not sound: "Ronny, will you get these noisome socks of yours out of the living room and put them in a hamper—and not mine!"

Word History: This word was created from noye or noie "harm" in Middle English, a shortened form of anoi "annoyance" from Old French anoier "to annoy", plus the adjective suffix -some. The French word came from a Latin phrase, in odio "odious, hateful", comprising in "in" + odio, the ablative case of odium "hatred". The root of odium is apparently Indo-European, for it turns up in several other languages: Armenian ateam "I hate" and ancient Greek odussomai "hate, be incensed at". It may be related to odor, which means the same in Latin and English. The semantic connection seems a bit thin, though. (Katy Brezger's suggestions for Good Words are never noisome, but always welcome and this one is no exception.)

Dr. Goodword,

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