Printable Version
Pronunciation: ahb-lê-kwi Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: 1. Vilification, verbal abuse, calumny, slander. 2. The state of disgrace brought on by vilification.

Notes: Today's word refers to verbal abuse brought on by disgraceful behavior. It comes with two adjectives, obloquial [ahb-lo-kwi-êl] and obloquious [ahb-lo-kwi-ês], as 'a host of an obloquious talkshow'.

In Play: The targets of obloquy are usually guilty of some despicable act or acts: "Al Qaeda fights on, ignoring the obloquy heaped on it by the Western world." Generally, obloquy is deserved, but that does not determine its applicability: "The US presidential campaign so far has been absent the kind of divisive personal obloquy of previous campaigns."

Word History: Today's Good Word is the English adaptation of the Latin noun obloquium "abusive contradiction", the noun from the verb obloqui "to interrupt". This verb comprises the prefix ob "against" + loqui "to speak", whose root we see in many borrowings from Latin, such as loquacious, colloquium, and eloquent. No one knows where the root of loqui [lokwi-] comes from. Russian has an old verb tolkovat' "talk, interpret" related to English talk. The L and K in that word might relate it to loqui, but the loss of the initial T cannot be explained. (Let me now thank Lew Jury for suggesting today's Good Word, before I become the target of obloquy.)

Dr. Goodword,

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