Printable Version
Pronunciation: se-ri Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: To stand or press close together, to close ranks, to tighten ranks or rows.

Notes: Here is another word in need of recovery. According to most English dictionaries it has already slipped over the edge into oblivion, leaving only its past participle, serried "arranged (lined up) close together", alive and well in the English vocabulary.

In Play: We still need this ancient verb: imagine taking a photograph of a group too large for the camera's field of view. You want everyone to move closer together, so you simply say: "Would you all please serry a bit more?" The past participle of today's word is called to duty most often, though: "As he boarded the plane, Llewellyn's dread of the serried seats that jammed his knees up under his chin grew ominously." Without today's Good Word, both these situations require phrases.

Word History: English probably took this word from French serre "lock", something that grasps, from Old French serrer "to grasp". French inherited this word from its mother, Vulgar (street) Latin's serrare from Late Latin serare "to bolt". This verb is built upon sera "bar, bolt", which must be aligned to work. The sense of alignment is critical since Latin inherited this word (sers) from ser- "to align, line up", also visible in series, insert and desert. The latter comes from Latin deserere "to abandon" from de- "not, un-" + serere "to join". (Let's all serry up and thank Dr. Margie Sved for discovering and recommending today's Good Word just in the nick of time.)

Dr. Goodword,

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