Printable Version
Pronunciation: aw-dit Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. To officially examine the financial accounts of an individual or organization. 2. To sit in on a course of study without receiving credit for it.

Notes: This verb is identical with its action noun, audit. In English it is usually the case that such nouns refer to one instance of the action of the verb, while adding the suffix -ing indicates the ongoing process of the verb, auditing. The personal noun is auditor with an -or ending, not -er. We have a passive adjective, auditable, but no active adjective. Usually the bare verb or participle serves this function: an audit session or an auditing session.

In Play: We have two synchronically unrelated senses of today's word, one related to education: "Lil Abner audited a course in molecular biology and decided that field of study was not for her." The other is related to finances: "The CFO of Wiggles Widgets resigned in light of facts brought out in an outside audit of the company's books."

Word History: If you spotted the Latin root for "hearing", aud-, in today's word, you're spot on. Today's Good Word was stolen from Latin auditus "a hearing", a noun from audire "to hear". It came about when audits were done verbally. A scholarly auditor only hears the lectures of a course. We find the same root in auditory, auditorium, audible, and audience. The only other language that had a trace of the PIE root underlying these words is Greek, where we find Greek aisthanesthai "to feel", which turns up in the English borrowings aesthetic and anesthesia. (Thank you Gordon Wray for wondering about the origin of today's Good Word when you recognized the root of this word in others meaning "hearing".)

Dr. Goodword,

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