Printable Version
Pronunciation: prah-mêl-gayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To announce, declare, publicly proclaim, spread the news. 2. To put (a law, ordinance, regulation, etc.) into effect by public proclamation.

Notes: This word is replacing its predecessor, promulge, but it is still used however rarely. Promulgate comes with a personal and action noun, promulgator and promulgation, respectively. Since the 19th century, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it can no longer be used as an adjective meaning "promulgated, proclaimed".

In Play: Promulgate is so tightly tied to the law that it is seldom used any other way: "The city council just promulgated a new ordinance against spitting on the sidewalk." However, it is still available for use in the sense of "spread and proclaim": "The governor just ordered that an officially approved picture of him be promulgated in all schools, businesses, and government offices."

Word History: Today's Good Word is based on promulgatus, the past participle of Latin promulgare "to make publicly known". This word is made up of pro "forward, forth" + mulgere "to milk". Apparently it originally meant "to milk forth", so promulgare must have originated in a figurative use of the word. Mulgere comes from PIE melg-/molg- "to rub, to milk", which also produced Sanskrit marjati "to wipe, rub", Greek amelgein "to milk", Albanian mjel "to milk", and Lithuanian melžti "to milk". We see it as a noun meaning "milk" in English milk, Danish mælk, Norwegian melk, Swedish mjölk, German Milch, Serbian mleko, Czech mléko, and Russian moloko. (Now let's promulgate a well-deserved "thank you" to our old friend Rob Towart for spotting the fascination of today's Good Word and sharing it with us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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