Printable Version
Pronunciation: re-prê-bayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Transitive verb, Adjective, Noun

Meaning: 1. [Verb] To rebuke, admonish, condemn. 2. [Adjective] Morally corrupt, degenerate. 3. [Noun] A person so morally corrupt as to be already condemned to eternal damnation.

Notes: The Good Word today is a close kinsword of the verb reprove "rebuke, admonish". The verb reprobate, which has the same meaning, was borrowed directly from Latin, while reprove came to us through the softening processes of French. In addition to using this word as all three major parts of speech, there is a derived noun, reprobation, and an adjective, reprobative, which means pretty much the same as the adjective reprobate.

In Play: Well, this is a good word not to play with; deploy it carefully: "He was officially reprobated by his company for taking kickbacks under the table." The adjective is equally powerful, "She fell in love with a reprobate laundry man who took her to the cleaners." You shouldn't use the noun lightly, either: "Half the kids in town look like the old reprobate."

Word History: In Middle English today's word meant "condemned". It was taken from Late Latin reprobatus, the past participle of reprobare "to reprove, admonish", a word based on re- "opposite" + probare "to approve". Probare comes from Latin probus "upright", which underlies English probity "uprightness, good moral character". In French, reprobare became today's rprouver with the same meaning as its English counterpart, reprove.

Dr. Goodword,

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