Printable Version
Pronunciation: re-pree-hend Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: Rebuke, condemn, censure, reprove.

Notes: The lexical relatives of today's word replace the final D with an S before attaching endings: reprehension "an act of reprehending", reprehensive "given to reprehending", and reprehensible "deserving reprehension". That is because it, like many English words borrowed from Latin, via French or directly, is based on the past participle of the Latin verb reprehendere, reprehensus.

In Play: The implication of this verb is that the reprehendee had committed at least a faux pas in the eyes of the reprehender: "No matter how often he was reprehended, Calvin couldn't help laughing at what went on in the legislature." Mothers sometimes form an inescapable habit of reprehending their children: "I visit so seldom, mother, is because whenever I come, you reprehend me for not attending church."

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from French, but it goes back, as mentioned above, to Latin reprehendere "to seize, blame, censure". I'm sure you recognize its structure: re- "again, back, against" + pre-hendere "grasp, grab". Don't try to make sense of it; it has been around for a long time and gone through many changes. We see its original meaning in prehensile "adapted to grasping", as the prehensile tails of monkeys. The root of prehendere, hend-, comes from a Proto-Indo-European word ghe(n)d- "to take" which, without the Fickle N, went on to become English get. (Lest I be reprehended, let me express all our appreciation at this point to Rob Towart for recommending today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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