• rapprochement •
ræ-prosh-mawN • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. The establishment or reestablishment of cordial relations between two social entities, especially countries. 2. The state of reconciliation or cordial relations.
Notes: Today's Good Word was copied from French so recently it hasn't even lost the French pronunciation (see Pronunciation above). Too, it is an arcane word, used mostly in scholarly writing, which contributes to its lack of assimilation to English.
In Play: This word is mostly used in reference to foreign policy. It was used in the 60s and 70s in reference to US-Soviet relations, but today we see a softening of US attitudes toward a nation closer to us: "Today the US and Cuba are entering a state of rapprochement." However, it applies more widely: "Motion pictures today represent a rapprochement between the highbrow and lowbrow."
Word History: This word obviously IS a French word, taken from that language in the late 18th century. It is based on the French verb rapprocher "to draw together", composed of re- "again" + approcher "to approach". Approcher is a reduction of Late Latin appropriare "to make one's own", comprising ad "to(ward) + propriare "to come near", from propre "near". Propre is a reduplication (repetition) of Proto-Indo-European por-/per-/pr- "at, near, before", found also in Latin per "through, across" and English for, fore- and far. It also turned up in Greek as para "beside, beyond" as in parapsychology "beyond psychology" and paradox "that which is beyond thought" and paraphrase "a near (exact) phrase". Russian pere- "re-, over, beyond", as in perestroika, also derives from this PIE primitive. (Let's offer a note of gratitude now to William Hupy for submitting a Good Word that demonstrates just how ravenous the English appetite is for French words.)
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