Printable Version
Pronunciation: pêr-gê-to-ri Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. (Religion) A place of limited suffering where souls have to wait while expiating their sins before entering heaven. 2. A temporary state of mental anguish or suffering.

Notes: The word underlying this word is purge, for Purgatory is a place where sins are purged. A purgator is a person or thing that purges and Purgatory is a purgator sine qua non. A soul in purgatory, or someone who believes in purgatory, is a purgatorian. The adjective for purgatory is purgatorial. Don't forget to change the Y to I in the plural: purgatories.

In Play: We should all know the religious sense of today's Good Word, so let's focus on the figurative sense: "The purgatory suffered by Rothschild from Matilda's departure was ameliorated only by his telepathic connection with her." Again: "Will Doolittle considered any form of yardwork sheer purgatory."

Word History: English remodeled purgatory from Latin purgatorium "place of purging, clensing", made up of purgat-, the past participle stem of purgare "to clean, purify" + -orium, a locative (place) suffix. Purgare was originally a compound comprising purus "pure" + the root of agere "to move, lead, drive, cause". Agere is based on PIE ag- "to drive, lead, move", which also went into the making of Greek axios "worthy" and agein "to drive, lead". The present participle of this word was agen(t)s "moving, leading", which English borrowed as agent. The past participle was actus "moved, led", which English borrowed as act, and which underlies action and active. Synagogue is the French rendition of Greek synogoge "assembly, congregation", from syn- "together" + agein "drive, lead, move". (Lest we cause Rob Towart any purgatorial concern, let's thank him for yet another captivating Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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