• sartorial •
sahr-tor-ri-êl • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Related to tailors and tailoring and, more broadly, to clothes.
Notes: Today's Good Word is based on the little-used noun, sartor. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the use of sartor to refer to a tailor is "humorously pedantic". That comment only encourages the mischievous wag. This word comes with an adverb, the expectable sartorially, but no one has yet ventured to promote sartoriality as a noun.
In Play: This word begs for use on dressy occasions: "You look so elegant, I can't imagine the Duke of Ellington bedecked in more sartorial splendor". At a less elite social level, we might say: "Her sartorial sense reflects a woman of intelligence and impeccable taste." However, it may be used to refer to changes in sartorial fashion or ill-fitting suits that bear witness to sartorial abuse.
Word History: Sartorial comes from Modern Latin sartorius, though how it made its way from sartorius to sartorial is unclear. Both words are based on Late Latin sartor "tailor", literally "patcher, mender", from Latin sartus, the past participle of sarcire "to patch, mend". Latin obtained this word from the PIE root serk- "to fence in, to make whole", which seems to have gone into the making of Greek herkos "enclosure, pen, fence". The English noun sartorius refers to the longest muscle in the human anatomy, stretching from the hip to the inside of the tibia. The sartorial muscle gets its name from the cross-legged position of a tailor working on a piece of clothing. (Our always sartorially correct friend, Maud Lynn Dresser, fitted us with today's Good Word.)
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