Printable Version
Pronunciation: nêp-shêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Related to marriage or a wedding. 2. Related to breeding or the breeding season.

Notes: With the plural suffix -s, this word may be used as a noun that means "wedding": 'Their nuptials were a thing to behold.' The adjective has an adverb, nuptially, and a noun, nuptiality, which means "the frequency of marriage within a population".

In Play: Today's Good Word may refer to a wedding ceremony: "The father of the groom actually brought a shotgun to his son's nuptial service with a visibly pregnant cousin." It may also refer to the marriage that results from such a ceremony: "The son never dreamed of the years of nuptial bliss that followed his marriage."

Word History: Nuptial was borrowed from Middle French nuptial, inherited directly from Latin nuptialis "pertaining to marriage", the adjective from nuptiae "wedding" (also plural). All these words boil down to nupta "wedded", the feminine past participle of nubere "to marry, to wed". Latin inherited nubere from PIE sneubh- "to marry, wed" with a Fickle S. It is the source also of Old Church Slavonic snubiti "to love, woo", Czech snoubit "to seek in marriage" and snoubenka "fiancée", and Slovak zasnúbiť "to betroth". All these Slavic words retain the Fickle S. We only find evidence of this PIE word in Romance and Slavic languages. (Today's odd little Good Word is yet another gift from Rob Towart, a prolific contributor of such suggestions over the years.)

Dr. Goodword,

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