Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-pyun Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To attack, oppose, resist. 2. To impugn, to call into question, contradict in opposition to, question the validity of.

Notes: English has several verbs with the root pugn-: impugn, expugn "to take by storm", repugn "to feel repugnance toward", and today's Good Word. Its pronunciation varies depending on whether it contains a suffix. Oppugn is pronounced as above, but the adjective, oppugnant, is pronounced [ah-pug-nênt]. The noun is oppugnance pronounced similarly.

In Play: Here is an observation I have made as a grandparent: "Teenagers tend to oppugn their parents for being out of touch with their world." Here is how the adjective is used: "The Internet has made possible a host of news sources oppugnant to the commercial ones."

Word History: In Middle English today's word was oppugnen, borrowed from Latin oppugnare "to attack", made up of ob- "against" + pugnare "to fight with the fist", based on pugnus "fist". This word derives from PIE peu(n)g- "to prick" with a Fickle N, for we also see it in punctual, borrowed directly from Latin punctus, the past participle of pungere "to prick". Point and punch were borrowed from Latin's daughter, French, both originating in the same Latin verb. Without the Fickle N, Latin made pugil "pugilist" out of the same PIE word, from which English created pugilist. "Fist" in Greek was pygme, on which English based pygmy.

Dr. Goodword,

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