Printable Version
Pronunciation: spor-div Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Playful, frolicsome, perhaps a little wantonly 2. Related to sport (a pleasant pastime), as a sportive afternoon at tennis and swimming.

Notes: Today's Good Word, like restive "fidgety", is not 'transparent'. We cannot detect its meaning by adding up the meanings of the stem and the ending unless we use the original meaning of sport. Remember, to make sport of someone is to make fun of them. A baseball game is a sportive event only to the extent it is sport "recreation, diversion, pleasant pastime", as opposed to a sport. Sportiveness is the noun and sportively, the adverb accompanying this adjective.

In Play: Sportive is related to the verb sport in the sense of "to play, frolic": "Jolee periodically tours the office with a sportive demeanor that makes working there almost enjoyable." The meaning is "frolicsome", so look out for sportive eyes and laughter in the world around you. But just as making sport of someone can be willful, so can sportiveness: "Isabel's thoughtlessly sportive remark about Gertrude's zaftig figure struck the only minor chord at the party."

Word History: Today's Good Word was sporte in Middle English, the aphetic form of disporte from Old French desport "pleasure, diversion" from desporter "to divert" based on dis- "away" + portere "to carry", hence that with which one might get carried away. The stem is from Latin portare "carry" whence English porter. Proto-Indo-European [p] became [f] in Germanic languages, German fahren "travel by conveyance" and fhren "to lead" (and Fhrer "leader") come from the same root, por-. The Germanic root is found in English welfare, farewell, and thoroughfare from the days when fare meant to take a journey and thorough meant "through". Greek poros "journey, passage", which gave us English pore, shares the same origin.

Dr. Goodword,

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