• pedestrian •
pê-des-tree-ên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Traveling on foot. 2. Commonplace, everyday, mundane, mediocre, boringly ordinary, so-so.
Notes: Although we list today's Good Word as an adjective, as we all well know, it is more often used as a countable noun, as in pedestrians. It is responsible for pedestrianism, the preference to travel by foot rather than contribute to the drain on fossil fuels. We also have a verb, pedestrianize "convert a street to pedestrian traffic only", which refers to a welcome process going on all around the world.
In Play: Today's extraordinary ordinary word does not have quite the sting of mundane, mediocre, or so-so, though it means the same: "Molly Spancer-Downe loves building out her wardrobe, but the clothes she chooses are so pedestrian!" You want to keep the pedestrian away from your palate: "Anne Chovi must have slept her way through culinary school: I find her dinners no more than pedestrian."
Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Latin pedester, an adjective meaning "on foot, pedestrian", derived from pes, pedis "foot". The same root is visible in pedal. Few roots from the mother of Indo-European languages remained in so many descendant languages so long. It emerged as Sanskrit pad "foot", Russian pod "under", German Fuß "foot", and English foot. Of course, the Latin word survived in all its Romance language descendants, such as French pied and Spanish pie, Italian piede, and Portuguese pé. The Greek variant, pous, podis "leg, foot" was borrowed in the English words tripod, podiatrist, and podium. The figurative usage ("boringly ordinary") resulted from the comparison of walking to riding in a carriage.
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