Printable Version
Pronunciation: pen-dênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Overhanging, hanging down, dangling, suspended from above. 2. Pending, incomplete, remaining undetermined, awaiting settlement. 3. Incomplete, having no finite verb, as 'a pendent clause'.

Notes: For a hanging adornment, such as a chandelier or dangling piece of jewelry, this word is properly spelled pendant. In the sense of "pending", it is commonly replaced in most speech by the Anglicized form pending. The qualitative noun is pendency and the adverb, pendently.

In Play: This word came to mind when I heard Senate Leader McConnell talk about the many 'pendent bills' in the Senate in a TV interview. However, this word is far more common in the first sense: "He decorated his garden with several pendent blossoming trees that glow pink in the spring. He also used pendent pots of mixed flowers as highlights." (Much less lethal-sounding than hanging.)

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from classical Latin penden(t)s "hanging", the present participle of pendere "to hang". Latin inherited its word from PIE (s)pen/(s)pon-d- "to stretch, spin" with a Fickle S and the suffix -d. With the S but without the D, we find English spin and span derived from the same source. We also see the S with the D in Lithuanian spindėti "to shine", without the S but with the D in English pound, borrowed from Latin pondus "weight", also from pendere "to hang" in reference to the scales of the time.

Dr. Goodword,

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