Printable Version
Pronunciation: fê-læn-dêr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive (no direct object)

Meaning: To pursue many superficial amorous relationships with women.

Notes: In Greek this word referred to someone who pursued amorous relationships with men, but in English its focus shifted to women. It often emerges as a proper name in literature. In Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, Filandro is the youth bedazzled by Gabrina. Philander Smith College is Arkansas's oldest private black college. Now a person who philanders is a philanderer and his activity is philandering.

In Play: We may need to make some delicate social distinctions in using this word: "So what is the difference between experimenting with potential marriage partners and philandering?" If you already know the answer to this question, you can commit yourself to statements like, "I don't think Phil Anders is serious about marrying June McBride; something about him makes me suspect him of philandering."

Word History: Transgender change is not a monopoly of human beings: words undergo it, too. Today's Good Word is a perfect example. It is derived from the Greek word philandros "loving men", based on philos "loving, beloved" + andros "man, male." This distinguishes a philanderer from a philanthropist, whose name comprises the roots of philos and anthropos "person, human". Philos also appears in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love (adelphos = "brother"). It also appears in words like Francophile "admirer of France or things French", and Russophile "someone who admires Russia or things Russian." Philately "stamp collecting" comes from the same stem + a-telos "without tax or charge", a reference to the fact that the postage stamp represents prepayment and hence costs the recipient nothing.

Dr. Goodword,

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