Printable Version
Pronunciation: ren-ê-gayd Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A disloyal, ill-intentioned deserter who betrays a country, organization, or set of principles. 2. An outlaw, a person who behaves menacingly if not illegally for whatever reason.

Notes: The Spanish original, renegado, is still an acceptable English word according to most English dictionaries. Renegate was once much used as a synonym, as late as 1982 according to the Oxford Dictionary. It seems to have fallen into disuse lately. The noun itself, unchanged, may be used as an adjective, as 'a renegade monk'.

In Play: The first sense of this word depends on betrayal as a motivational factor: "Senator Flaky was looked upon as a renegade by his fellow Republicans for his departure from Republican orthodoxy." The second sense of the word does not: "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were renegades who were romanticized in a movie."

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Spanish renegado, which originally referred to Christians who converted to Islam. Spanish inherited the word from Medieval Latin renegatus "denied", the past participle of renegare "to deny, refuse, decline". This word is made up of re-, an intensifier here + negare "to deny, refuse, decline". Latin inherited this word from its parent, Proto-Indo-European, ne/no "not". This word picked up several consonants as it passed through all the descendants of PIE: T (English not), G (Latin negare), L (Latin nullus "none") and N (Latin non "not"). We find the G in many Latin borrowings like negate, negative, renege, which also comes from renegare. (Time to thank our long-standing friend Jackie Strauss, no renegade herself, for suggesting yet another fascinating Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!