Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-pêg-nênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Combative, antagonistic, confrontational, oppositious.

Notes: We are all acquainted with repugnant, but here is a cousin that occurs so infrequently that some of us may have missed it. It is based on the verb oppugnate, long since replaced by oppugn "to attack, oppose, resist". The noun for the adjective is either oppugnance or oppugnancy. With the suffix -ate, the G is pronounced; without the suffix, the G becomes silent and the U lengthens.

In Play: Today's word can imply violence: "On January 6, 2021 the Congress was attacked and breached by an angry oppugnant mob." It may only imply strong opposition: "The pandemic brought the fact that some people are oppugnant to vaccination into clearer focus."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a reshaping of Latin oppugnan(t)s "besieging, attacking", the present participle of oppugnare "to besiege, attack; to beat with fists". Its components are an assimilated form of ob "against" + pugnare "to fight", based on pugnus "fist". Ob is a reduction of PIE epi-/opi- "at, against", source also of Greek opi- "behind", Lithuanian apie "around, about", and Russian ob "around, about". Pugnare is a Latin makeover of PIE peuk-/pouk- "to prick", suffixed with an -n, source also of Greek pygme "fist", borrowed by English as pygmy. A metathesized form of this word (peunk-/pounk-) is found in Latin pungere "to prick", whose past participle, punctus, is at the base of the English borrowings puncture, punctuate, and punctual. This form of the PIE word descended into English via its German ancestors as bung "cask stopper".

Dr. Goodword,

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