Printable Version
Pronunciation: pai-rê-tek-nik Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Related to or resembling fireworks or other explosives.

Notes: Should you ever need an extra syllable in using today's Good Word, you may add the semantically empty suffix -al and say pyrotechnical. However, you must insert this suffix before the adverb suffix -ly, pyrotechnically, even though it isn't pronounced. To form the noun, simply add -s, pyrotechnics. Someone skilled in handling explosives or fireworks is a pyrotechnician.

In Play: Pyrotechnic also has figurative sense: "Concert attendees were treated to a pyrotechnic performance by piano virtuoso Ivor E. Keyes." Speech may be pyrotechnic as well: "Fred's insult to George's ancestry led to some verbal pyrotechnics." Otherwise, remember that this word refers to all explosive devices: "There are many types of pyrotechnic compositions, such as smoke bombs, incendiary bombs, whistle bombs, and shock bombs."

Word History: Today's word was borrowed from the French pyrotechnique, inherited from its father, Latin, which borrowed it from Greek pyrotechnikos, comprising pyr "fire" + -o- + techne "art, craft, skill" + -ikos, an adjective suffix. Greek pyr shares the same PIE source as English fire, German Feuer, and Czech pýř "hot coals". Greek came by techne from PIE teks-na- "craft, creation", a suffixed form of PIE root teks-/toks "to weave". The remnants of this root may be seen in Greek tekton "carpenter", Latin texere "to weave, fabricate", Russian tkat' "to weave", German Dach "roof". (I wish today's gratitude could be expressed more pyrotechnically to Gordon Wray, for he not only provided today's explosive Good Word in the Agora, but the first two examples in the In play section above.)

Dr. Goodword,

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