Printable Version
Pronunciation: awt-rayj Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: An act of horror beyond all bounds of decency, deserving of the greatest anger and resentment. 2. The furious response to such an act.

Notes: Today's word was originally the abstract noun corresponding to the adjective outré "bizarre, most unusual". Today, however, the adjective corresponding to this noun is outrageous and the adverb, outrageously. This noun may be used freely as a verb, as an act that outraged the nation.

In Play: When I attended the University of North Carolina in the late 50s, students could only read D. H. Lawrence's novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover, under lock and key in the Rare Book Room. The moral outrage of the public over the sexually explicit descriptions in that novel may be a bit difficult to understand today. The worldwide outrage over the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001, however, persists universally to this day.

Word History: As mentioned in the Notes above, today's Good Word was originally the noun derived from the adjective outré "bizzare, most unusual", with the addition of the suffix -age, i.e. outr-age. However, it was reanalyzed as out + rage by folk etymology and this analysis leads to the sense of rage and resentment that the word has today. Thus, outrage lost semantic contact with its original source, outré. Outré is the French descendant of Latin ultra "beyond," also used by English in the senses of "beyond" and "extreme", as in ultraliberal, ultramodern, and ultrasound "sound beyond the human hearing range", as well as ultralight aircraft.

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!