• stalwart •
stawl-wêrt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Sturdy, strong: "He was of stalwart build." 2. Loyal, reliable, steadfast, true to a cause: "He was a stalwart supporter of our organization."
Notes: Today's Good Word comes with a seldom seen or heard synonym, stalworth, resulting from our choosing for the literary language a Scottish variation (see Word History). Today's word comes replete with an adverb, stalwartly, and a noun, stalwartness. It may also be used as a noun referring to a stalwart person. The same applies to stalworth: stalworthly, stalworthness and a stalworth.
In Play: The second sense of today's Good Word is the one that predominates today: "Jay Pegg and his lovely wife Em have been stalwart supporters of a free and open Internet—and shorter terms for copyrights." As mentioned above, today's adjective may be used as a noun, too: "Gladys Friday was a stalwart in the struggle to expand the lunch break to an hour and a half."
Word History: Stalwart comes to us from Scots English; the English correlate is stalworth. Both come from Middle English stalwurthe, from Old English stælwierþe "standing in good stead, serviceable", from stæl "fixed position, station" + -wierþe "able". The last word is probably an alteration of statholwierthe "steadfast", comprising stathol "foundation, firm footing" + weorth "valuable". Stathol comes from the same source as stand, stall, and stallion, a horse known for standing on its hind legs. In Russian and other Slavic languages it turns up in staryi "old, long-standing". Yiddish shtetl "village" is a diminutive of Old High German stat "place". (We hope that Pia de Jong, a writer from the Netherlands, will become a stalwart contributor of Good Words like today's.)