Printable Version
Pronunciation: se-jê-lês (US) or se-dyu-lês (UK) Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Diligent, assiduous, zealous; applying oneself unflaggingly to a task.

Notes: Today's Good Word may be used as an adverb with the proper suffix, sedulously. Do not confuse it with sedition "treason", however; its noun is sedulity, pronounced either [s-ju-l-tee] or [s-dyu-l-tee].

In Play: Here is a way to improve your child's studying habits while building his or her vocabulary by at least one word: "If you will do all your homework sedulously this week, I will let you help me rake up the leaves this weekend." But this word does general duty; you can even use it on the farm: "If Clarence were as sedulous in weeding his garden all summer as he is in planting it in the spring, we would have more fresh vegetables—and he would be carrying less weight around.

Word History: Today's Good Word is a light remake of Latin sedulus "zealous, sincere" from se "without" + dolus "trickery, deceit". The PIE root that turned into Latin dolus originally meant "to count", an activity that often leads to trickery. It is the same root that we see in English tell, which originally meant "count". The association of the meanings "tell" and "count" is also found in account, which may refer to either bookkeeping or a story. Reckoning has similar senses. Interestingly, the same association of meanings occurs in Hebrew, where the root s-f-r appears in sefer "book" and safar "he counted". (Today we owe a note of thanks to Paul Ogden for spotting the wide-spread connection between "tell" and "count".)

Dr. Goodword,

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