Printable Version
Pronunciation: su-pêr-er-rê-gayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive

Meaning: Go beyond the call of duty, do more than is expected.

Notes: Like all good Latin borrowings, today's Good Word comes replete with a full family of derivations: supererogant and supererogative are the adjectives; supererogation is the action noun.

In Play: Today's word applies to instances of overperformance: "Seamus Allgood supererogates in everything he does at the office but is something of an underperformer at home." You will probably find more occasion to use this word in the office than at home: "The boss says that without considerable supererogation on all our parts, this project cannot be brought to fruition."

Word History: As I'm sure you have already detected, this word comes from supererogatus, the past participle of the Latin verb supererogare "to spend over and above". This word comprises the preposition super "over, beyond" + erogare "to spend". Erogare, in its turn, contains the preposition e(x) "out of, from" + rogare "to ask", the same rogare that went into the making of interrogate. The root underlying this word, reg-, rog "straight(en), rule", also underlies words like regal and rule, the latter via Latin regula "straight stick, rule". The best guess as to how this root came to mean "ask" in rogare is that it originated as a verb meaning "to stretch out the hand", which came to mean "to beg" and then "to ask".

Dr. Goodword,

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