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armistice

Printable Version
Pronunciation: ahr-mÍ-stis Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A limited cease-fire or the document containing the terms of a limited cease-fire; a temporary truce put in place until a permanent agreement can be reached between two hostile parties.

Notes: In the US and Europe today is the day before Armistice Day, a holiday to celebrate the end of hostilities in World War I. The armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France took effect the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918. In Britain some people wear a red poppy on this day.

In Play: Armistice Day in the US is also known as Veterans' Day in the US. An armistice is a temporary peace treaty: "The Korean War ended in an armistice in 1953, not a peace treaty, leaving the Korean Peninsula in a technical state of war."

Word History: Today's word comes from Late Latin armistitium "armistice" based on Latin arma "arms" + -stitium "stopping, standing". The original PIE word for arms apparently referred to something fitted together, for Latin arma originally meant "tool, instrument". Moreover, the same root turns up in Greek as harmos "shoulder" from which we get harmony—a word oddly at odds with the meaning of arms and army, which seem related. The original root sta-, which gave Latin its -stitium, went on to become, unsurprisingly, stand and stop in English. However, see if you can figure out why it also appears in stallion and steed.

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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