Printable Version
Pronunciation: sê-di-shên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: 1. Rebellion, attempting to provoke a riot, especially to overthrow a government or authority. 2. Speech intended to incite to rebellion.

Notes: Apparently sedition has been a popular activity in the history of English-speaking people, for this Good Word comes replete with a rich array of related words. The adjective, seditious, describes the inclinations of people who tend to foment rebellion; you can also be seditionary. This latter word may further be used as a noun to refer to such people: 'she is a seditionary', but then she is also a seditionist. Seditiousness is the proclivity that gave rise to all these words, which suggests that it is a proclivity high on our minds over the years.

In Play: Among the most famous seditionists of all time were, of course, the Founding Fathers of the United States. The Boston Tea Party was a grand act of sedition. The point is, whether sedition is good or bad depends on your perspective. Czar Nicholas II of Russia did not like sailing on the sea of sedition in Russia at the turn of the 20th century; V. I. Lenin thought it just the medicine Russia needed.

Word History: Today's Good Word is another we borrowed from Old French and forgot to return. French inherited it from Latin seditio(n) "mutiny, civil discord", which comprises sed- "apart, on one's own" + itio(n) "going", a noun from itus, the past participle of ire "to go". The root sed- goes back to Proto-Indo-European swe-, which also underlies English self and Hindi swami "one's own master, person due respect". There is evidence of its presence in solo, too. The political arm of the Irish Republican Army is called Sinn Fein, which means "we ourselves" in Irish. Fein comes from the same root with a suffix -n and centuries of lingual tinkering.

Dr. Goodword,

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