• dossier •
dah-see-ye, do-see-ye • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A file containing documents about a particular person, event, or subject.
Notes: Look out for the spelling of today's Good Word. This word preserves the French spelling but not the accent on the final syllable. Since dossiers are usually filed, it is often replaced by file. Dossier implies an ordered, perhaps secret, file. This word has not spawned any derivational offspring, except a plural: dossiers.
In Play: Sometimes dossiers contain so little information as to require little organization: "Bulldog Drummond's dossier contained the following rather sketchy note: 'Good speaker; clever; unscrupulous. Requires big money; worth it. Drinks.'" Other times they are so well organized they could be published: "Rhoda Book's first novel was more or less a dossier about herself."
Word History: Today's Good Word was plain out swiped from French dossier "bundle of papers labeled on the back". The word was based on dos "back", the residual of Vulgar Latin dossum, a variant of Latin dorsum "back". Dorsum underlies dorsalis "of/on the back", the origin of English dorsal. No more is known about dorsum. No other Indo-European language shows any evidence of it. (If we kept a dossier on George Kovac, it would be thick with excellent Good Word suggestions like today's.)
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