Printable Version
Pronunciation: re-kên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. (with the preposition at) To estimate by counting, total up estimating, think to be some number, 'debt reckoned at $1 trillion'. 2. To think or consider possible, as 'I reckon I can do that'. 3. (with the preposition on) To depend on, rely on, to expect, as 'to reckon on good weather'.

Notes: Today's Good Word is much more prevalent in the Southern US than elsewhere. The sentiment "I think so", common elsewhere in the US, is often expressed by "I reckon" down South. A reckoning is an accounting for our behavior or actions. We also have an adjective, reckonable, meaning "accountable".

In Play: The first sense of the word, met more frequently in speech in the northern US: "We reckon Monte Carlo's net worth at a billion dollars." The second sense is more frequent in the South: "Don't you reckon William Arami and June McBride will get married some day?"

Word History: Today's word was rekenen in Middle English from Old English gerecenian "to recount, arrange in order". Reckon is a cousin of Dutch rekenen "count, calculate" and German rechnen "count, calculate", which came from the same source. They all go back to the Proto-Indo-European root reg-/rog- "move in a straight line" with derivatives meaning "to direct in a straight line", hence "to lead, rule", emerging as Sanskrit rajah "king" and maharajah "great king", Latin rex "king", and the English borrowings from Latin regal, regiment, direct. English also borrowed rule and ruler in both senses "measuring stick" and "leader" from an Old French reduction of Latin regula "(measuring) rod". This PIE root worked its way down through Proto-Germanic ancestors to English right.

Dr. Goodword,

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