Printable Version
Pronunciation: ri-lay-shên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Account, report, the act or result of recounting, telling, as 'the relation of a story'. 2. An identical quality or property in two distinct objects, animate or inanimate, concrete or abstract, as 'Their relation is built on a mutual love for music." 3. Any other connection between two things, as 'her relation to Pittsburgh'. 4. A member of a family by blood or marriage, a relative, as "My cousin Joe is a close relation."

Notes: This word is the noun from the verb (to) relate, which can mean simply "tell" or "connect". The verb comes with an active adjective, relative, which may mean "not independent, only in relation to something else and can be used as a noun meaning "member of a family. A relationship refers usually to a very close relation.

In Play: Here is an example with the first and third senses of the word: "My teenage son's relation of what happened at the party bore little relation to the truth." The third sense is probably the most popular: "The disagreements over the relation of politics and economics has been a source of contention for centuries."

Word History: English picked today's Good Word up from Old French relacion "report, connection", which inherited it from Latin relation(n) "restoring, report, proposition", the action and result noun from relatus, the irregular past participle of referre "to relate, refer". Relatus comprises re- "back (and forth), again" + latus, the past participle of ferre "to carry, bear". Latus is what Latin made of PIE tel-, tle- "to carry, bear", following the path of PIE tolkw- "to speak" » Latin loquitor "to speak". Sanskrit tulayati "to lift, weigh", Greek atlas "not enduring", Irish teilg "cast, throw", Breton talm "to sling", and German dulden "to tolerate, bear, suffer—all share the same source. (Now a bow to Maureen Koplow, a contributor since 2006, for spotting the complexity of today's gem of a Good Word and sharing it with us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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