Printable Version
Pronunciation: sê-li-lê-kwi Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A monologue, a speech to oneself, a speech made when no one else is present or, on stage, to the audience by one performer.

Notes: Usually, if a word ending on a Y is preceded by a vowel, the Y does not change to I before the plural suffix -s, for example, boys, monkeys, buoys. Today's Good Word and all others ending on -loquy are exceptions: more than one soliloquy are soliloquies. Soliloquies are given by soliloquists.

In Play: We most naturally associate soliloquies with the stage: "The snores arising from the audience during Hamlet's soliloquy were so disconcerting that the actor omitted several lines." However, the word works just as well off-stage: "I have given a series of soliloquies about saving energy in this house over the past month and would appreciate seeing them develop into a general discussion."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a rarity: a word whose precise origin we know. The Latin word, soliloquium, was first used in the Liber Soliloquiorum "Book of Soliloquies" by St. Augustine (354-430). Augustine created his new word from Latin solus "only, sole" + loqui "to speak". Latin solus came from a root that also combined with a suffix -bh, resulting in German selbst "self", Russian sebya "self", and English self—after a change or two. We have discussed the origin of loqui before, so here I will just refer those of you interested in this word to those discussions: ventriloquy and obloquy. (Let's hope that our expression of gratitude to Ann Parker for suggesting today's Good Word will not be a soliloquy; she deserves much more.)

Dr. Goodword,

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