Printable Version
Pronunciation: re-kwee-e-skæt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Prayer for the repose of the soul(s) of the dead.

Notes: Today we have a word that haunts the religious vocabulary, but I will suggest we bring it out. It is a noun based on the verb requiesce "to rest, repose", rarely used in reference to the living. It comes with a regular noun, requiescence "state of repose; peace, quiet".

In Play: This is a word whose literal sense restricts play. Its Latin origin is captured in the phrase, "Requiescat in pace," written on many tombs. But it has other uses: "Pearl recited a lovely requiescat over the coffin of her husband." It would not seem unsuitable for figurative usage, but I see no reason why we couldn't say: "Don't say a requiescat over me just because my first business went kerflooey."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes to us from the Latin phrase 'requiescat in pace', often abbreviated R.I.P, found on many tombs. Requiescat is based on the verb requiescere "to rest, repose", itself based on requies "rest, repose", made up of re-, here an intensifier + quies "rest, quiet". The Oxford English Dictionary claims that the number of uses of the prefix re- is "practically infinite". It has taken up residence in English meaning "again, back, undo". Its origin is still a matter of speculation. Quies, on the other hand, comes from PIE kweie- "to rest; peaceful, quiet". This PIE word left its traces also in Latin quietus "at rest, inactive", source of French and English quiet. We also see its remains in prefixed Russian pokoj "peace, quiet". Albanian qetë "quiet", and English while [hwail].

Dr. Goodword,

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