• parastatal •
pæ-rê-stayt-êl • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun
Meaning: 1. [Adjective] Owned wholly or in part by the government. 2. [Noun] A business or agency owned wholly or in part by the government.
Notes: Today's Good Word came in handy in 2008 as the US Federal Government put together parastatals to run the AIG insurance firm and the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan companies. Parastatal was originally the adjective for parastate, a partly state-run industry or a semiautonomous political region. Since then the adjective has taken over the sense of the noun it is derived from.
In Play: Congress formed a government-owned parastatal agency called the Resolution Trust Corporation in 1989 to rescue the failing savings and loan banks. In 2008 Congress decided to create a similar parastatal to bail out Wall Street financial institutions. Parastatals are common in Africa.
Word History: Today's Good Word comprises the prefix para- "beside, near" + state + -al, adjective suffix. English borrowed the prefix from Greek where it meant "beside". The same root became Latin per "through", which English also borrowed. In English it became for, in French pour, and in Spanish and Portuguese por. State comes from Latin status "state, standing, condition", a word English also borrowed. State is Latin status after centuries of French tampering. (A. Pierre has left us in a state of deep gratitude for suggesting we discuss this very topical Good Word.)