• platitude •
plæt-ê-tyud • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. (Count noun) A statement or rule, trite and banal for having been heard so many times as to be commonplace. 2. (Mass noun) Triteness, banality, dullness, lack of originality.
Notes: This word has a large family of derivational relatives. We have our choice of four adjectives, platitudinal, platitudinous, platitudinary, or platitudinarian. A person who wallows in platitudes may be called a platitudinarian or platitudinist, and what he or she wallows in, platitudinism.
In Play: Platitudes are usually rules of morality that have been repeated many times before: "Dad, please don't recite another one of your platitudes on the evils of tattoos!" However, today's Good Word may also be used as a count noun (no plural) in the second sense above: "Congressional leaders today live in a world of platitude and inanity."
Word History: This word was copied from French platitude "flatness, vapidness", from Old French plat "flat" + -itude, an extension of the suffix -ude, also seen in latitude, attitude, multitude. Plat comes from Vulgar (street) Latin plattus, borrowed from Greek platus "flat". Greek came by its word from Proto-Indo-European plat- "to spread", which came down to English via its Germanic ancestors as flat. English borrowed the French word plat with a long A, which made it plate. (Rather than recite a platitude to William Hupy, let's graciously thank him for recommending today's Good Word.)