• piacular •
pai-æk-kyê-lêr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Making up for, making atonement, expiatory, expiating some wrong-doing. 2. Wicked, bad, requiring atonement or expiation.
Notes: To use this Good Word, we have to remember that it begins with two syllables, and that the first sounds like pie. The adverb is formed quite simply by adding the usual suffix, piacularly, and the noun by adding -ity: piacularity. This word is closely related semantically to the Good Word expiate for reasons that will emerge in the Word History.
In Play: Today's word is used less often to refer to an act that requires atonement, but that meaning is still available: "Morris, picking me up late is so piacular you will have to take me out to dinner to make up for it." This makes taking his girlfriend out a piacular act in the first sense above: "I hope dinner at McDonald's is piacular enough for such a light slight."
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Latin piacularis "atoning, expiatory", from piaculum "sacrifice". Both these words were derived from the verb piare "to appease". Piare is based on the adjective pius "dutiful, devout", which we discussed in connection with expiate. The noun from pius, Latin pietas "compassion, piety", came to be píté in French, whence English borrowed it as pity. The same Latin noun became pietà "compassion" in Italian, the name of Michaelangelo's famous statue of Mary holding the body of Jesus. (Mark Angney of Concord-Carlisle High School in Concord, Massachusetts, need not feel any piacularity for finding and submitting such a superb Good Word for us today.)
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