Podcast obdurate

Printable Version
Pronunciation: ahb-dyê-rêt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Emotionally hardened, hard-hearted, unsympathetic. 2. Intractable, unrepentant, adamantly and unshakably stubborn.

Notes: Writers have done a lot of experimentation with the noun from this adjective. Obduracy, obdurateness, and obduration have all been tried but obduracy seems to have emerged the favorite with obdurateness running a close second. You may also use this word as a verb if you pronounce it slightly differently: [ahb-dyê-rayt], that is, pronouncing the last syllable fully: "The treatment Cinderella received from her mom and stepsisters obdurated her against them forever."

In Play: Today's Good Word tends to turn up in certain phrases, like obdurate heart and obdurate sinner: "Basil, you obdurate sinner, I just saw you dealing from the bottom of the deck!" However, obduracy does not have to refer to stubborn sinfulness: "Mildred, why do you so obdurately oppose my taking the checkbook when I go out with the guys?"

Word History: Today's word comes from Late Latin obduratus, the past participle of obdurare "to harden," a verb based on the adjective durus "hard." Yes, the root of that word, dur-, is also visible in the English borrowings endure and durable. Durus was originally Proto-Indo-European *deru-/*doru- "solid, tree" which emerged as daru "wood" in Sanskrit, a word that devolved into Modern Hindi daru and Farsi (Modern Persian) dâr. Elsewhere the stem underwent liquid metathesis (the [r] and the vowel switched places) so that in Serbian it emerges as drevo "tree, wood" while in English it evolved into both tree and true. Druid, by the way, is probably a reduction of a Celtic compound *dru-wid- "strong seer," where wid is a relative of the root in video and vision.

Dr. Goodword,

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