Printable Version
Pronunciation: æwst Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. To remove from office or some particular position, to expel or force out, as 'The CFO was ousted for miscalculating the profits.' 2. To replace, as 'The computer has ousted the typewriter.'

Notes: You may think that today's word is out with a misplaced S, since oust means "to force out". If so, you will be surprised to read Word History. An act of ousting and the person who acts to oust are both ousters. Otherwise we are left with the verbal forms, ousting serves as the adjective and another noun for ouster, and ousted serves as an adjective indicating the fait accompli.

In Play: Today's Good Word is used most often in the first sense above: "The press secretary was ousted for his 'twistification' of the company's position on labor contract negotiations." However, the second sense is well on its way to legitimacy according to several dictionaries: "Gwendolyn ousted Hermione as chairman of the Women's Auxiliary Verb Symposium."

Word History: English borrowed this word from Old French oster "remove, take away; evict", (Modern French ôter), inherited from Latin obstare "stand in opposite of, to block, to hinder" from ob "against" + stare "to stand, stay". This verb also underlies English obstacle, another borrowing from Latin. Latin status "manner, condition, standing" and statio(n) "station, post" are two other derivations from stare borrowed by English. Stare came from PIE root sta-n- "to stand", which shows up in Persian as stan "country", as in Kurdistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, literally "where one stays". Russian stat' (stan-) "stand up" is another verb sharing the same origin. Besides English stand, Old English stede "place" survives in homestead, farmstead, bedstead and instead "in place (of)". (We welcome back Joakim Larsson of Sweden, and thank him cordially for his recommendation of today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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