Printable Version
Pronunciation: re-pêr-ray-shên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Compensation for some wrong committed. 2. (Reparations) Financial compensation for war damage paid by the defeated country. 3. (Outdated) Repair, restoration.

Notes: Reparations is currently being used by Democratic presidential candidates in the sense of compensation paid to the descendants of slaves. This word is a noun based on the verb reparate "to repair; to compensate". The adjectives for the same verb are reparative and reparatory with the same two meanings.

In Play: Today's Good Word is most widely associated with payments made by losers of wars to the winners: "The stringent reparations payments from war-torn Germany demanded by the Versailles Treaty led to World War II." However, the new sense is gaining traction: "Reparations to the descendants of slaves is estimated to cost the descendants of slave-owners between $10 and $20 trillion." The Austrian government paid 18.2 million euros in reparations to the Jewish community of Vienna.

Word History: Reparation was borrowed from Old French reparacion, which inherited it directly from Late Latin reparation(n) "repairing, restoration". This was the action noun based on the past participle of reparare " repair, restore", comprising re- "again, over" + parare "make ready, prepare". Latin inherited parare from Proto-Indo-European pere- "to produce, procure", which went into the making of parent as well. It also produced Spanish parada "stop, stand", originally referring to parade horses, but borrowed by English as parade. (Were we to forget to thank Sue Gold, we would have to reparate our relation with such a long-time prolific recommender of Good Words like today's.)

Dr. Goodword,

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