Printable Version
Pronunciation: ree-deem Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To pay off the debt on a pawned item to get it back. 2. To cash out (stocks). 3. To save or rescue, especially from a state of sin (to redeem your soul). 4. To exchange for, to convert (redeem a coupon for a ticket). 5. To make up for, make amends, atone for; to restore a reputation (to redeem yourself for doing a bad job).

Notes: No, it doesn't mean "deem again", though this meaning is possible in the appropriate context: "After he confessed, I redeemed him a good person." The sense of today's Good Word comes with a complete family of English relatives, including an active adjective, redeeming, and a passive one, redeemable. The personal noun is redeemer. If capitalized as Redeemer, this word refers to Jesus Christ, the Savior, in the Christian faiths. Only the action noun is Latinate: redemption.

In Play: The most popular usage of today's word is sense No. 5: "Jess Hyde will have to do a hat trick in today's game to redeem himself for the score he kicked into his own goal last week." Here is a sentence that uses this word in the sense No. 3: "Gladys Friday dreamed of someone who would come into her life and redeem her from her miserable job."

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Middle French redemer "to buy back". French inherited this word from Latin redimere "buy back, ransom, bribe". This word contains re(d)- "again, back" + emere "take, buy, gain". (The D in the prefix is there because the prefix appears before a vowel.) The root of emere, em-, turns up in some PIE languages meaning "take", "have", or "buy". In Serbian it emerges as im-ati "to have", while in Russian it is barely visible in vozmu "I'll take". Sanskrit yamati "holds" belongs among this lot. (Kathleen McCune of Norway needs no redemption, for she has been contributing Good Words like today's for many years now.)

Dr. Goodword,

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