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Pronunciation: (Verb) ri-kawl, (Noun) ree-kawl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. Call back, to order or allow to return, as 'to recall a defective product'. 2. Dismiss an elected official by special election, as 'to recall Senator Snavely'. 3. Revoke, cancel, as 'to recall a chess move'. 4. Remember, remind, bring back to mind, as 'to recall a name'.

Notes: English has a funny way to mark 'result nouns', some nouns that refer to the result of a verbal action: move the accent back one syllable, as in survey - survey, relay - relay. All disyllabic verbs with the prefix re- create result nouns this way so, when this verb forms a result noun, the accent should move back to the first syllable: recall. However, we often confuse the two. This word has several offspring: recaller, recallable, and recallability are the most prominent.

In Play: The most frequent use of this word is as a synonym of remember: "Hector couldn't recall the last time he had remembered his wife on Valentine's Day." The other senses of this word are recalled less often: "The company had to recall all the helicopter ejector seats when the defect occurred to the president."

Word History: Today's Good Word comprises the prefix re- "again, back" + call. The ultimate origin of re- is probably PIE wer- "to turn, wind", also the origin of Sanskrit vartati "turns", Latin vertere "to turn", Serbian vratiti "to turn" and vrata "gate", and Russian povernut' "to turn" and vorota "gate". Call, on the other hand, was borrowed from Old Norse (Viking) kalla "to cry out, call loudly", from PIE gal- "to call, shout", remnants of which we see in Sanskrit garhati "complains, rebukes", Latin gallus "rooster", German Klage "complaint", Dutch kallen "to chatter", Old Church Slavonic glas "voice", as in Russian glasnost "freer speech and news", Russian golos "voice", Welsh galw "call, demand", Irish glao "call, ring", Cornish galow "a call", Breton gervel "to call", and Albanian gjel "rooster". (I can't recall a single time we've forgotten to note our gratitude to Barbara Beeton for her ongoing commitment to the Agora and outstanding Good Words like today's.)

Dr. Goodword,

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