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Pronunciation: prê-mis-kyu-ês Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Having a wide variety of sexual partners. 2. Consisting of a wide variety of things. 3. Indiscriminate, irregular, random.

Notes: The basic sense of this word is the third meaning above but, as usual, the sexual connotation dominates all others. This is demonstrated by its obsolete negative, impromiscuous, which only means "consistent, regular, unmingled". The nouns are promiscuity ([prah-mis-kyu-i-ti]) and the clunkier promiscuousness. Some UK dialects omit a syllable and pronounce the word promiscous.

In Play: The dominant sense of today's word has to do with sexuality: "'The pill' has allowed people to become far more promiscuous than previously." However, the original sense of promiscuous still occasionally emerges in publications if not conversations: "Americans have a promiscuous array of values and behaviors to choose from."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a touchup of Latin promiscuus "mixed, indiscriminate", comprising pro "forward, (bring) forth, front" + miscere "to mix". Latin miscere was created from PIE meik- "to mix, stir", source also of Greek meixo "I mix", Irish measc "to mix", Lithuanian maišyti "to mix", Latvian mâisît "to stir", German mischen "to mix, stir", and Russian mešat' "to mix, interfere with, bother". Middle English borrowed Latin mixtus "mixed", the past participle of miscere, and simplified it to mixt, sometimes spelled mixed. It then backformed mix from this word.

Dr. Goodword,

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