Printable Version
Pronunciation: spæws-breech Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Adultery

Notes: The word adult has taken on such a shady character these days, adultery, adult bookstore, adult toys, I, for one, am almost ashamed of growing up. A replacement is long overdue. Here is a word that the OED claims is "rare", "literary", or "archaic". The OED's indecision makes adoption even easier. The adjective is spouse-breaking.

In Play: Can't you just hear people using this word rather than adultery? "Will Dolittle didn't enjoy getting together with the boys, because they enjoyed so much bragging about all their spousebreaches." Just as adultery, today's word fits both sexes: "One day Herman came home early and caught his wife in a flagrant act of spousebreach."

Word History: This Good Word was borrowed from Old French spouse, the feminine of spous "marriage partner" (Modern French époux/épouse), inherited from Latin sponsus "bridegroom"/sponsa "bride". (The verb espouse was borrowed from Middle French after the initial é- had arisen.) The original meaning of this word was "betrothed", for it is based on the masculine and feminine forms of the past participle of spondere "to pledge, solemnly swear, betroth" from PIE spend- "to make an offering, perform a rite". Little came of this word besides its Latin appearance. English borrowed another word based on the Latin realization: sponsor. Break, the origin of breach, is another story. It came to Old English as brecan from PIE bhreg- "break". Latin inherited a nasalized form, frangere "to break", the past participle of which is fractus, which went into the making of many Latinate English borrowings: fraction, infraction, fracture, etc.

Dr. Goodword,

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