Printable Version
Pronunciation: smit-ên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Past participle, adjective

Meaning: 1. Affected strongly with great feeling, as 'smitten with his neighbor' or 'smitten with great remorse'. 2. Inflicted or afflicted, as 'smitten by pneumonia'. 3. (Archaic) Struck, dealt a blow as, 'smitten by the hand of God'.

Notes: I suspect smitten has become an adjective, since the other forms of this strong verb, smite and smote, are no longer used outside stodgy British cricket. Moreover, the word is used almost singularly in the second sense above, most often referring to affection.

In Play: Harley Davidson was smitten by Clara from the moment he saw her on her American-made motorcycle." However, it may refer to other kinds of love, too: "Gretchen returned to Bangkok time and again, she was so smitten with the city."

Word History: In Old English today's Good Word was smiten, the past participle of smitan "to smear; soil". Old English changed nothing in the Proto-Germanic form, smitan. It also shows up in Swedish smita and Danish smide "to smear, fling", Dutch smijten "to throw" and German schmeien "to throw, fling". Proto-Germanic got its word from PIE smeid- "to smear, rub". No other Indo-European language families seem to have kept this PIE word. The meaning had changed to "strike" by Middle English.

Dr. Goodword,

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