• rotund •
ro-tênd • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Round, spherical. 2. Fat, overweight, obese. 3. A literary style characterized by grandiloquent expression.
Notes: The noun from today's adjective is rotundity. According to today's recommender, John Adams was called "His Rotundity" because he wanted a more royal-sounding title for his presidency. An older form of this word is spelled rotound and pronounced exactly the way it looks [rotæwnd]
In Play: The fundamental sense of this word is "spherical": "You could always find Uncle Earl beside the rotund pot-bellied stove in his old-fashioned country stove in New Monia." However, the metaphorical sense may be the most often encountered: "Uncle Earl was the one who was as rotund as the stove you always found him beside."
Word History: Today's Good Word is based on Latin rotundus "round, like a wheel", from adjective from rota "wheel". Latin rotarius "rotating" comes from the same source. English borrowed this one, too, for its rotary. Latin rota comes from PIE ret-/rot- "to run, to turn, to roll", source also of Sanskrit rathah "car, chariot", and Lithuanian ratas "wheel" and ritu "I roll". We find it among the Celtic languages such as Old Irish roth and Welsh rhod "wheel". Rot- also went into the making of the common Germanic words for "wheel": German Rad and Dutch rad. By the way, English round was borrowed from an ancestor of French rond, which was all that was left of Latin rotundus by the time it reached French. (This word was found in a lost trove of letters from 2013, this one from Sara Goldman. My apologies for the delay. Others follow.)
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