Printable Version
Pronunciation: naht-with-stæn-ding Hear it!

Part of Speech: Preposition, Adverb, Conjunction

Meaning: 1. (Preposition) Despite, in spite of. 2. (Adverb) Nevertheless, all the same. 3. (Conjunction) Although, despite the fact that.

Notes: Today's lexical dynamo is remarkably versatile, functioning equally well as no fewer than three parts of speech (see above). Moreover, in its prepositional function it may stand before (preposition) or after (postposition) the noun phrase it modifies. How is this possible? Read on.

In Play: Let us begin with the preposition-postposition option. Use this word when you wish to emphasize your firmness on a matter: "Notwithstanding your heavy social schedule, you must clean your room before going out." Better yet, put this 'preposition' behind the noun phrase: "Your heavy social schedule notwithstanding, you must clean up your room before going out!" That will garner you the respect you deserve. (Ago is another English postposition, as in 'five years ago' but not 'ago five years'.) We may also use this word as an attention-grabbing adverb: "I dyed my hair every color in the rainbow but Daley Walker notwithstanding never even glanced my way." Finally, our protean friend loves to act like a conjunction replacing although: "Daley Walker paid no attention to me notwithstanding I dyed my hair every color in the rainbow."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a collapsed phrase, not withstanding, that was a loan-translation of Latin non obstante "not obstructing". A 'loan translation' is a word or phrase that is translated part by part from another language. For example, English borrowed the word superman piece by piece from German bermensch by translating ber "over, super" and Mensch "man" independently. Some call such a word a calque.

Dr. Goodword,

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