Printable Version
Pronunciation: stick-tu-i-tiv Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: (Slang) Persistent, tenacious, dogged.

Notes: Today's silly Good Word is so silly that it is usually placed in scare quotes: She got the job because she was "sticktoitive". You will not find it listed in any of the establishment dictionaries, so it is not widely considered a word. However, despite being ostracized by the major dictionaries, it has been sticktoitive enough to remain in the language since at least 1909. It comes with a noun, sticktoitiveness.

In Play: Since we have two perfectly good synonyms of today's word, the only reason people keep using this word is because it is a funny ear-catcher that adds a touch of naughty spice to our speech: "I don't think Rhoda Book is 'sticktoitive' enough to write a revelatory novel about our college days." Its claim to worddom is sketchy, to say the least, so I would continue to put scare quotes around it: "Ronald misses a lot of work in winter because he is not 'sticktoitive' enough to shovel to the end of his driveway."

Word History: Since a persistent person is someone who sticks to whatever he or she is doing, I suppose it was just a matter of time before someone, failing to think of persistent or tenacious in time, simply took that phrase and (mis)placed a suffix on it. The original meaning of stick was "to pierce, to jab" but, since two objects are often stuck together by piercing them with pins, nails, and the like, the verb eventually assumed the meaning of attach by stickiness. This is the sense of the stick in sticktoitive, to persist in doing something as if attached to it with adhesive. The same distant relative also emerged as stake and sting in English and the stig in Latin instigare "to spur on", which English borrowed as instigate.

Dr. Goodword,

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