Printable Version
Pronunciation: nê-lê-fi-di-yên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun

Meaning: 1. (Adjective) Having no faith or religion, disbelieving in all religions. 2. (Noun) Someone who has no faith or religion.

Notes: We all know that an atheist is someone who does not believe in God. Today's Good Word refers to a person who may believe in God, but does not adhere to the tenets of any faith or religion. It is a lonely word, without derivational family.

In Play: Today's word has a pejorative pall hanging over it: "Some media nullifidians seem to enjoy dispensing gloom-and-doom scenarios in hopes of scaring people to take up their political positions." However, it only means you do not go to church: "George is a godly nullifidian who devotes his weekends working for the benefit of others."

Word History: Today's Good Word did not come from Late Latin nullifidius "infidel", but was created again the middle of the 16th century from Latin nullus "nothing, no one" + fides "faith". Latin nullus was made from the Proto-Indo-European ne "not" plus some mysterious suffix. It is present in all Indo-European languages, including English un-, French and Russian ne, German nein. Fides has an adjective fidelis "faithful" that appears in the Latin title of the Christmas carol Adeste Fidelis "Oh, come all ye faithful". The Latin root turns up in many words borrowed by English, including confide, fiancé, fidelity, and infidel. (We are happy to express our gratitude to the mysterious Grogie, faithful contributor to the Alpha Agora, who recommended today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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