Printable Version
Pronunciation: ri-ku-pêr-ayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: To regain a healthy status, to recover from ill health either literally, as to recuperate from a cold, or figuratively, as to recuperate from an economic downturn.

Notes: Have you ever wondered how we can recuperate from illness when we never 'cuperated' in the first place? The prefix re- usually means "again", as in rewrite and repaint, or "back" as in retake and rebutton. The Word History will explain what is going on here. The action of recuperating is recuperation and anything that aids in recuperation has recuperative (the adjective) powers.

In Play: We most often recuperate from illness or injury: "When Les Canoodle recuperated from the blow to his head, he apologized to Gladys Dunn for his remark." We can, though, recuperate from anything that worsens or sets us back: "It took Dusty Broome all of the weekend to recuperate from cleaning up the gym after the senior prom at the high school."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Latin recuperatus "taken back, recovered" from recuperare "to regain, take back", based on re- "again, back" + capere "to take, to hold", plus a peculiar shift of the A to U. This shift is the reason that English has no verb, cuperate. Latin doesn't have one either since the original verb was capere, not cuperare. The original root cap, however, comes from a word found in some form in most Indo-European languages. In English it showed up as have, in German haben, and in Norwegian as har (havde, haft). Latin had a variant of capere, captare, which was borrowed by Old English and became catch. English then borrowed a later version of this word, capture, from French. (We are so grateful that Kathleen McCune, now of Sweden, wondered how we can recuperate without first 'cuperating' and asked us that question.)

Dr. Goodword,

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