Printable Version
Pronunciation: pêr-di-shn Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Eternal damnation or complete destruction. 2. Hades, hell.

Notes: Usually words on -tion come from verbs or adjectives: educate : education, contrite : contrition, edit : edition. You can't perdite your way to perdition, though, for no such verb exists. The adjectives perditious and perdite have long since vanished from the language, leaving perdition an actual nominal orphan except, possibly, for perditionable "suitable for perdition," which only faintly persists.

In Play: We may use today's word for the four-lettered one with the similar meaning (hell). Not only is perdition longer, it is more formal hence impressive and expresses more forcefully the same sentiment: "The road to perdition is paved with good intentions." When emotional reasons suffice for the strength of this notion, today's word provides a way around the expletive, "What in perdition are you talking about?"

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Late Latin perdition(n), from Latin perditus, the past participle of perdere "to destroy, ruin; to squander". This verb comprises: per- "through, by means of" + dare "to give". The past participle of dare, datum in the neuter, underlies data (plural of datum) and date. Not only today's word, but edition comes from the same root, believe it or not. Suffixed with -n, it appears in Latin donum "gift", included in the English borrowings donate and pardon. Russian dat' "give" is also a descendant. This verb underlies dacha "summer house" and izdat' "publish", found in samizdat "self-publishing", a popular word in the 60s during the life of Boris Pasternak. Greek dosis "something given" was borrowed and Anglicized as dose and antidote, not to mention anecdote from Greek anekdotos "unpublished (item)", based on an- "not" + ekdotos "published."

Dr. Goodword,

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