Printable Version
Pronunciation: ri-dæw-dê-bêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: No, this word doesn't mean "capable of doubting again", but rather "formidable, impressive, respected for power to the point of intimidation".

Notes: I love words that are not what they seem to be: fartlek, formication, allegator, and today's Good Word. This word is derived from a verb still in current use, redoubt, meaning "to dread, fear; to stand in awe of". The past participle of this verb, redoubted, has the same meaning as today's Good Word. Today's Good Word comes with an adverb, redoubtably, and a noun, redoubtableness.

In Play: Self-assertive women are often thought of as redoubtable: "The elementary school teachers of Molly's kids redoubted the visits of their redoubtable mom." This adjective applies to both sexes, though: "The new boss was redoubtable for the fire in his eyes and the power in his voice."

Word History: Today's Good Word was, again, borrowed from Old French, this time from redoutable, an adjective based on redouter "to dread". This word is composed of re-, here an intensifier, plus douter "to doubt, fear". Douter is what French made of Latin dubitare "to waver, be in doubt", the ultimate source of English (in)dubitable and dubious. It goes back to Proto-Indo-European du-bhw-: du, variant of dwo "two" + a suffix -bhw-. We see smithereens of the PIE root dwo, of course, throughout Indo-European languages. In English alone, we find two, twice, twilight, twain, twist, as you might do to two threads in making twine, and twig, apparently once perceived as the splitting of a limb. And this is just a sampling.

Dr. Goodword,

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