• froward •
fro-wêrd • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Stubbornly disobedient, rebellious, antagonistic, contrary in the extreme.
Notes: Today's Good Word is even more forward than forward itself. Someone who is forward is just a little too aggressive, impolite, speaking too familiarly too soon. Someone who is froward is openly rebellious, just the opposite of someone who is toward "affable, friendly"—another excellent word on the brink of extinction. (Toward, in fact, is far less often heard today than its negative, untoward, as in 'an untoward remark'.) We behave frowardly when we are possessed of frowardness.
In Play: We all pass through a stage in which we are consistently froward: "Lionel is three years old and just entering that froward stage when he does just the opposite of what we ask him to do." That is why 'reverse psychology' was invented. Frowardness is not smiled upon generally, but it is particularly awkward in the business world: "Ally Katz is much too froward to succeed in the corporate world; she will be lucky to keep her current job."
Word History: When the Vikings began invading the coastal areas of England and Scotland, the Old Norse word for "from" was frá. Scots English absorbed this word and today you will hear fra rather than from in many Scottish dialects. In British English, this word influenced from, costing it its closing M for a while in some dialects, though generally from held its ground. We hear fro today only in a few old words like today's Good One and a few phrases like to and fro. Froward remained alongside fromward "thence, away from", though both words are used far less often today than they deserve. (Today's Good Word came from the very toward Samuel Keays, not at all frowardly.)