• demeanor •
dee-mee-nêr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: Behavior towards others, outward bearing and behavior.
Notes: Today's Good Word has a spelling trap: it ends on -or, rather than -er, though the two are pronounced identically. Also the first [ee] sound is spelled E, while the second, is spelled EA. Although based on the verb demean, the two words parted semantic company long ago (see Word History).
In Play: Our demeanor is our outward bearing that may reveal what we are thinking inside no matter what we say: "'No, I'm not married', he said, but his demeanor told her that he had something to hide." However, our demeanor usually aligns with our character and personality: "Izzy Badenov's prickly demeanor made him a poor candidate for manager."
Word History: Today's noun was based on the verb demean in its original sense, "manage, handle, conduct". In the course of the 17th century this sense developed into what it is today, "to abase, debase". English borrowed this word from Old French demener "to guide, conduct", comprising de "of, from" + mener "to lead, direct". In Late Latin mener meant "to drive (a herd, etc.) from Classic Latin minari "to threaten". This word also produced minax, minacis "threat" that went on to become French menace, which retained its meaning after English snitched it. (Whatever Norman Holler's demeanor, we must thank him now for his generosity in sharing this very Good Word with us today.)
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