Printable Version
Pronunciation: pæn-êr-jik Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Having multiple skills, able and willing to carry out a variety of tasks requiring different sets of skills.

Notes: We are not beyond attempting, from time to time, to rescue words from the brink of oblivion. Today's Good Word is just such a lexical item deserving another chance in our vocabularies. A panurgic person is a jack-of-all-trades, so we have a sort of noun that expresses the sentiment behind panurgic. However, it does not provide us with an adjective, hence our need to keep panurgic alive and well. It comes with an adverb, panurgically, and a noun panurgicity.

In Play: Panurgic people are very useful around the house: "Just remember, a spouse who is panurgic will be more useful in the long run than one who is beautiful." The limitations on the panurgic are mostly temporal: "Martha, even if I am panurgic, I can't mow the lawn, repair the kitchen drain, and paint the shutters all at the same time!"

Word History: This word comes to us from ancient Greek panourgos "willing to do anything, devilish", a word derived from Greek pan- "all" + ergon "work". How Greek came by pan- is unknown, but it was put to good use. Words English borrowed with it include panacea, the cure of all ills, pandemonium, Milton's word for a situation filled with all the demons, and the disease that reaches everyone, pandemic. Ergon is now used around the world as the basic unit of work, the erg. Of course energy is required for work, the study of which is known as ergonomics. This Greek word came from a Proto-Indo-European word werg-/worg-, which the Germanic languages also inherited. It emerged in German as Werk and in English as work. (Our gratitude today is owed that lexically panurgic Michigander known only as Grogie, who suggested this multipurpose Good Word in the Alpha Agora.)

Dr. Goodword,

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