sol-jêr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A member of the army or armed forces. 2. An enlistee or noncommissioned officer in an army. 3. A member of a social insect species whose job it is to defend the colony, as a soldier ant or bee.
Notes: Today's Good Word is so familiar that it has developed a large and healthy family. The adjective is soldierly "like a soldier", as soldierly behavior, and the quality of being a soldier is either soldierliness or soldiership. All the soldiers of the world or any subgroup of them comprise a soldiery, a word that can also mean "(knowledge of) military matters". The noun itself becomes the verb, for every active soldier soldiers.
In Play: Soldiership, of course, is not something we play at; it is an activity that the soldiery of the world takes very seriously inasmuch as soldiers stake their lives in their occupation. Today is Memorial Day in the US, a day when we pause to display our respect for all our soldiers who have fallen around the world for causes in which they believed.
Word History: Today's Good Word slipped from French into Middle English as soudier around 1300. The Old French word was derived from sol, the ancestral form of Modern French sou "farthing, thing of little value", as in, "I wouldn't give a sou for Sue or you". In Old French the sou was a sol, the word from which the word solde "soldier's pay" was derived. Soudier would then mean "someone on a soldier's pay". It comes from Latin solidus, which English also borrowed as solid; it originally referred to solid money, hard cash, coins. Since warriors served a feudal landlord for no pay, the original soldier was a mercenary, paid for his services, apparently, in sous (or at that time, in sols).
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