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shoddy

Printable Version
Pronunciation: shah-dee Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Of poor quality, shabby, trashy, of inferior material or manufacture. 2. Dishonest, bad, poor as a 'shoddy business' or a 'shoddy idea'.

Notes: Here is a sentence with both the original meaning of today's Good Word and the extended meaning: "That was a shoddy way to treat a friend: giving her such a shoddy piece of furniture for her birthday." The extended meaning is probably most widely used today: "Prudence Pender had such a shoddy facelift that she grins involuntarily every time she sits down."

In Play: Here is a sentence with both the original meaning of today's Good Word and the extended meaning: "That was a shoddy way to treat a friend: giving her such a shoddy piece of furniture for her birthday." The extended meaning is probably most widely used today: "Prudence Pender had such a shoddy facelift that she grins every time she sits down."

Word History: Today's word comes directly from an older, now obsolete noun shoddy "cloth made of shredded woolen rags". The U.S. became aware of the word during the Civil War by its use referring to those who supplied uniforms made largely of shoddy. It probably came from dialectal shode "loose fragments of ore on the ground". If so, shode evolved from Old English scadan "to shed, divide", a word that started out as skei- "to cut, split" in Proto-Indo-European. We see other evidence of this PIE word everywhere in Indo-European languages. In English it also shows up with the suffix -n as shin. In Latin the same suffix shows up as scindere "to split", which we see in the English borrowing rescind. English also borrowed schism from the Greek descendant of the same PIE word, skhizein "to split". Finally, Latin scire "to know" came from the concept of analysis, the idea of mentally cutting the object of study into its component parts. The English word science is the French version of the present participle of that word, sciens "knowing". (Today we owe gratitude for today's Good Word to a man of no shoddy vocabulary, Brian Johnson of Tokyo in the Alpha Agora.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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