Printable Version
Pronunciation: -dê-kêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, noun

Meaning: 1. Forming the fundamental nature or root of something. 2. Extreme, reflecting an extreme change or difference in the fundamental nature or root of something. 3. (Linguistics) Pertaining to the root of a word. 4. (Botany) Springing directly from the root(s) of a plant.

Notes: Here is a word that is much in the news lately as the two US parties use it to describe each other. Three nouns are used to refer to extremist positions or just the quality of being radical: radicality, radicalism, and radicalness. The verb is radicalize "to make radical". This adjective is often used as a noun referring to a person with extreme views.

In Play: The sense in which this word is used most often is "fundamental, basic": "Everyone noticed the radical change in Myrtle's attitude since she won the lottery." The nominal use of this word means "extremist": "Democrats and Republicans waste their time accusing each other of being social and political radicals."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Late Latin radicalis "having roots", from radix (radic-s) "root". Latin created its word from PIE wrad- "branch, root", source also of German Wurzel "root", English root and rutabaga and -wort, as in liverwort, milkwort, and felonwort. We see it, too, in Latin ramus "branch", lying beneath the surface of English borrowings ramification and ramose "branched, branchy". Radish was borrowed from Old French radice (Modern French radis), the revised version of radix itself. (A "thank-you" is now due the very active Agoran Barbara Beeton for spotting the interesting aspects of today's very topical Good Word and recommending it.)

Dr. Goodword,

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