• adjuvant •
æ-jê-vênt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective, noun
Meaning: 1. (Adjective) Supplemental, contributory, enhancing the effect of something else, aiding. 2. (Noun) Something that enhances a medical treatment or procedure. 3. (Noun) An aid, assistant, helper.
Notes: Here is a word not often heard outside the field of medicine, though it is useful in the usual conversations. It is based on the verb adjuvate "to help, assist, contribute" and comes with a quality noun, adjuvance. The adjective adjuvanted means "containing an adjuvant" and is limited to medical terminology. Its strictly medical mate is neoadjutant "preapplied ancillary treatment" as opposed to adjutant, which is treatment applied after the primary treatment.
In Play: This word is most often encountered in medicine: "Surgical removal of cancer is usually followed by adjuvant chemotherapy." However, it may also be found as an adjective or noun in general vocabulary: "Godfrey's wife was his intellectual adjuvant in the pursuance of his career."
Word History: Today's Good Word was taken out of French, as usual. French inherited it from Latin adiuvan(t)s "helping, aiding", the present participle of adiuvare "to aid, assist". This verb French managed to compress into aider "to aid", which English also helped itself to as aid. The Latin original comprises ad "(up) to" + iuvare "to help". Ad arrived in English, via its Germanic roots, as at. We have two opinions of how iuvare came to be in Latin. The one is that PIE contained a word iow- "to help". The other is that it somehow came from yeu(n)- "strength, youthful vigor" that also produced Latin juvenis "young" and iunior "younger". Juvenis went on to become Spanish joven, Portuguese jovem, and French jeune "young". The former theory predicts Sanskrit avati "to defend" and Latin iuvare. The latter predicts Russian junyi "youth, young boy", English young, German jung and Latin iuvare. Take your pick. (We should now thank and welcome newcomer Keith Roberts to our league of contributors for today's excellent Good Word.)
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