Printable Version
Pronunciation: stee-vê-dor Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A person who loads and unloads ships or otherwise works on the docks.

Notes: You don't have to be named 'Steve' to be a stevedore, but you do have to mind your Es and Es. Today's Good Word is filled with e-traps: not electronic traps but traps with the letter E. The pronunciation is that of a double E, [ee], but the two Es here embrace the V: steve-. Moreover, unlike the name, Steve, the second E is pronounced "uh". Finally, the word ends on an E that is silent, -dore.

In Play: Stevedores in the US have a reputation of being tough guys: "Hey you guys! Don't romp through the house I just cleaned like a couple of stevedores!" This reputation of stevedores is probably undeserved. Most of the moving on docks these days is done by sophisticated machinery requiring more brain than brawn. However, you are still more likely to hear requests like this: "I need a couple of husky stevedores to help me move the piano to the pool."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Spanish estibador, which originally meant "wool-packer", a meaning that later changed to "someone who stores wool for export". From there the meaning slipped to "someone who stows cargo", as in Modern Spanish estiba "loading" from estibar "to load or unload". This verb was passed down from Latin stipare "to compact, compress, pack", which inherited it from PIE steip- "compress, pack", source also of Sanskrit styayate "coagulates", Greek steibein "to press together", Lithuanian stipreti "to stiffen", Latvian stīvs "stiff", Dutch stuwen "to stow", and English stiff. (Today's unexpectedly interesting Good Word comes from someone in a town with quite a few stevedores, Peter Melville of Rotterdam.)

Dr. Goodword,

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