• vehemence •
vee-ê-mêns • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)
Meaning: 1. A loud display of fury, violence, wild abandon. 2. Virulence, violent antagonism, intenseness of feeling.
Notes: Here is a word we hear less often than the adjective it is based on: vehement. It has an adverbial form, vehemently. If you need an extra syllable when you utter vehemence, you may replace the E with Y and say vehemency.
In Play: We usually associate vehemence with angry people: "Amanda Lynn Player defended the inclusion of an item for music in the school budget with such vehemence, the board voted in favor of it just to get her out of the room." However, there is no clear line between people and objects for this word: "Adam Bahm exploded in anger, got in his truck, and rocketed up the slushy dirt road with such vehemence that he lost three hubcaps."
Word History: Today's word comes from French véhémence, derived from Latin vehementia "fervency, vehemence". Vehementia is quite possibly based on vehere "to carry", maybe used in the sense of "to get carried away". Vehere is also the ultimate origin of English vehicle. It comes from Proto-Indo-European wegh- "to carry, to transport" that was also picked up by the Germanic languages. From Old Germanic it made its way into English as way and wagon, and into German as Weg "way" and Wagen "wagon". (Let us now peacefully thank Joakim Larsson of Sweden for suggesting we explore this passionately Good Word.)