Printable Version
Pronunciation: reg-nênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Reigning, ruling, in power (usually postpositive, as 'king regnant'). 2. Dominant, ruling, most widespread, most influential.

Notes: Here is a useful, more formal alternative to reigning. The noun for it is regnancy and regnation is a rarely used relative referring to the act of ruling. Regnal is a related adjective, meaning "pertaining to reigning", as 'regnal activity'.

In Play: When used in the first sense, today's word usually follows the noun: "Spain has known only four queens regnant in its long history." Elsewhere it behaves like any other adjective: "That vaccination prevents and cures diseases without doing any harm is the regnant belief around the world."

Word History: Today's Good Word was taken from Middle French regnant "reigning", inherited from Latin regnan(t)s, the present participle of regnare "to reign, rule over". The Latin verb was built on PIE reg-/rog- "(make) right, just; king". Regnare was based on regnum "rule, kingdom", a verb that today remains regnare in Italian, but evolved into French régner, and Spanish and Portuguese reinar. Latin regula "straight stick, (measuring) ruler" was ground down to riule in Old French, when English borrowed it as rule in both senses of the word. Latin regularis "regular, related to rules" came to English via French as regular. Reg-/rog- further shows up in Irish ri "king", German Reich "kingdom", English right, Latin rex, regis "king", and Hindi rajah "king". An interesting sidelight: in Swahili, an unrelated African language, the word for "Portugal" is Ureno, from Portuguese o reino "the kingdom". (Again, we find ourselves in the debt of Kyu Ho Youm, University of Oregon, for today's regal Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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