Printable Version
Pronunciation: æ-pê-zit Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Extremely relevant or appropriate, most befitting, fitting a need perfectly.

Notes: Today's Good Word has drifted rather far afield of its original meaning, "stand close to". This is what the adjective appositive and its noun apposition still mean. An appositive noun is one that stands next to another and refers to the same thing, as in the subject of this sentence: "My brother, the brat, tied my shoes together." The adverb for apposite is appositely and the noun, appositeness. Be sure to keep its meaning clear of appositive: apposite means the opposite of opposite. Also remember that, like opposite, the accent always falls on the initial syllable.

In Play: Basically, our word today refers to things that go perfectly with something else: "I didn't think her flouncy peach frock was quite apposite for her husband's funeral." Of course, opinions vary as to what is appropriate in a given situation: "I thought a gentle belch was a rather apposite expression of my appreciation of the delightful meal I had just consumed—I turned my head!"

Word History: Today's word is an English makeover of Latin appositus, the past participle of apponere "to place near", comprising ad- "up to" + ponere "to place, put". Ponere seems to be a reduction of po "frequently" + sinere "to set, lay aside". This combination could have been syncopated to posnere, which would become ponere in Latin, since Latin didn't like the combination SN. Apposite is obviously related to opposite, which comes ultimately from the same Latin verb, ponere, with the prefix ob "against". (I believe a word of thanks to Chris Stewart, our South African friend who suggested today's Good Word, would be apposite at this point.)

Dr. Goodword,

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