Printable Version
Pronunciation: sêmp-chu-wês Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Lavish and expensive, large and luxurious, opulent.

Notes: Here is a word sumptuously endowed with Us and Ses. The adverb is sumptuously and the noun, sumptuousness. This word has no spelling pitfalls so long as you watch your Ps and Us. Because it refers to expense, it is related to an earlier Good Word, sumptuary.

In Play: Today's Good Word is often used in discussions of entertainment: "Gilda Lilly served a sumptuous dinner on the verandah for her investment broker and his wife." What you wear to a sumptuous meal is fair game for this word, too: "Portia Radclyffe came to the ball in a sumptuous gown of taffeta and velvet dripping in jewelry."

Word History: Today's word comes via Old French sumptueux (Modern French somptueux) from Latin sumptuosus, from sumptus "expense", the past participle of sumere "to take, buy", used as a noun. Sumere was derived from sub "(from) under" + em- "to take". This root picked up an initial N in Germanic languages and went on to become German nehmen "to take". In Old Slavic it became imeti "to have", which evolved into imati in Modern Serbian and imet' in Russian, both meaning "to have". We don't find evidence of it in English except in words borrowed from Latin like example, taken directly from Latin eximere 'to take out", and sample, from the same source via French. (Let's all offer sumptuous appreciation to Cathy Hilborn Feng in Hong Kong for suggesting today's luxurious Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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