Printable Version
Pronunciation: pêr-vyu Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: The scope, range, or limit, e.g. of authority, responsibility, vision, intention.

Notes: Please do not confuse today's word with purlieu "specified place or area". Purview had long since disassociated itself from its ostensible derivation, purvision "provision" before its meaning had swayed away.

In Play: This word is most comfortable in legal and political discussions: "In the Dodds decision the Supreme Court decided that the abortion issue was outside the purview of the federal government and laws dealing with it should be left to states." That does not mean it can't be used around the household: "Maisie told us that her room was outside the parental purview."

Word History: Today's Good Word comprises a puzzling prefix pur- + view. The prefix is explained by an early borrowing from Anglo-French (French spoken in England following the Norman Conquest) purveu, from Old French porvue "provided", the past participle of porveoir "to provide". Old French inherited its word from Latin providere "look ahead, prepare, provide", comprising pro- "forward, ahead" + videre "to see". Pro came from PIE per/por "(to go) over before, for", which emerged in English as for and fore, in Sanskrit as pra- "before, forward", in German as für "for" and vor "before", Russian as pro "through", pered "forward", and pere- "over, through". View is what French made of Latin visio(n) "seeing", the action noun from videre "to see", a word we have encountered many times.

Dr. Goodword,

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