Printable Version
Pronunciation: ree-zain Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive and reflexive

Meaning: 1. Relinquish a job, office, or power, leave or give up a job. 2. Concede a game, especially chess. 3. (Reflexive) To give in, to give up, to accept something unpleasant though unavoidable: "She resigned herself to aging."

Notes: This verb seems topical with all the firings and resignations taking place in the US administration. Resignation, by the way, is the noun for today's verb. Although the G is silent in the verb, it is pronounced in the noun: [re-zig-nay-shên]. Reflexive verbs require a reflexive pronoun: myself, himself, herself, etc. Someone who gives in in this sense may be said to be resignful and to speak resignedly, with a pronounced -ed: [ree-zain-id-li].

In Play: We most often hear this word used in the first sense above: "Jerry Mander was allowed to resign his position in the administration in order to appear in court." The reflexive usage is quite common, though: "Jerry had resigned himself to being fired because of the 32 felony indictments against him."

Word History: There is another possible pronunciation of today's word: [ree-sain] with an S. But this pronunciation would imply "to sign again". Today's Good Word was borrowed from Old French resigner "renounce, relinquish" that goes back to Latin resignare "cancel, give back, give up". The Latin verb comprises re- "back, opposite" + signare "to mark, make a sign", from signum "mark, sign". Latin inherited signum from PIE sekw- "to follow" + no-, a noun suffix, since signs are usually things we follow. This PIE word also went into the making of Latin sequi "to follow, come after", which we see in non sequitur, a remark that does not follow from what has been said. It also produced secundus "second, the following", which English borrowed for its second. (Our gratitude is owed Rob Towart for recommending today's sequitur and quite topical Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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