Printable Version
Pronunciation: rawt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Worked, crafted, done.

Notes: Today's Good Word is an archaic but still occasionally encountered past participle of work (see Word History). You will notice that substituting worked for it usually, well, works. Wrought up means "worked up" and overwrought means "worked up too much" (more or less). Handwrought means "hand worked" while wrought iron means "worked iron".

In Play: Today's Good Word is an amazing survivor of times when things came to pass rather than happened: "Since my designs are so traditional, I've decided to call my shop 'Ye Olde Wrought Iron Shoppe' rather than 'Mortimer's Ironworks'." For this reason, today's word fits comfortably only where antiquity is implied: "I'm sure the city fathers were unaware of the damper on population growth they had wrought in passing the ordinance against kissing in buggies. It is way past time to rescind it."

Word History: Today's word was the past participle of Middle English wyrcan "to work" and the origin of work, as well. The same PIE root werg-/worg- developed into Greek ergon "work" found in ergonomics. It also went into the making of surgery, a reduction of Latin chirurgia, borrowed from Greek kheirourgia "hand-work" based on kheir "hand" + erg- "work". The o-grade, worg-, turns up in Greek organ "tool" and orgia "sacred rite", the source of English orgy, something that requires quite a bit of work. The personal noun from English wyrcan was wright "worker, crafter", found in several words such as wheelwright, cartwright, and playwright (NOT playwrite!) Playwright is a loan translation of Greek dramaturge, based on dram(at)- "a play" + ergon "work". (Today we thank Christa Hegland for what she has wrought by bringing this Good Word to the attention of our good wordwright, Dr. Goodword.)

Dr. Goodword,

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