Printable Version
Pronunciation: ree-payr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive

Meaning: To betake oneself to a place or person, to proceed to, to sojourn (for those who do not condescend to simply 'go' places).

Notes: After dinner you may repair or retire to the library, but what is the difference? To retire to a place implies that you withdraw from company and go there for seclusion or solitude. Repair originally meant "return" and often implies returning to a place often frequented. You may repair to your favorite bar every weekend, but you would hardly retire there. You might want to repair to the garage to repair your car after dinner, but remember: these are two unrelated words coincidentally spelled the same, as the Word History shows. Today's Good Word is only intransitive, which is to say, you cannot repair a device in this sense of this verb.

In Play: OK, so this Good Word is a bit dated, but it is still in the dictionaries and vocabularies of most English speakers and has that comfortable feel of your favorite cardigan: "My professor announced today that if we have any problems with our papers, we may repair to his office for assistance." He will no doubt suggest ways to repair them. "When my car broke down on the road, I quickly repaired to the nearest garage for a quick repair." Get the idea?

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from repairier, the Old French makeover of Latin repatrire "to return to your native land", the same verb that gave us repatriate. This verb consists of re- "back" + patria "country, fatherland", a noun taken from the patrius "paternal", the adjective of pater "father". This word is an excellent example of how [p] and [t] in Proto-Indo-European became [f] and [th], respectively, in Germanic languages for in English the same root is now father. The transitive verb repair comes via French reparer from Latin reparare "restore, renew" made up of re- "back, again" + parare "to prepare". The fact that they are spelled the same today is simply fortuitous. (We are grateful today to Peter Evans of London, Ontario for repairing to us with today's still useful and usable word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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