Printable Version
Pronunciation: sêr-fit Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, verb

Meaning: 1. (Noun) Overabundance, superfluity, surplus, an excessive quantity, more than needed or desirable. 2. (Verb) To provide with an excessive quantity, to indulge in excesses, as 'surfeit on wickedness', or 'nauseated by surfeiting on food and drink.'

Notes: If you need an extra syllable, surfeiture is almost an exact synonym. A surfeiter is someone who indulges in any kind of surfeit: a libertine, glutton, womanizer, etc. The adjective that once accompanied this noun was surfeitous, now rarely used.

In Play: The noun works like this: "Social media provides such a surfeit of news that it is difficult to sort real information from disinformation." The verb, like so: "Maude Lynne Dresser surfeited her appetite for expensive clothing and accessories on Rodeo Drive."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Anglo-Norman surfeit, the past participle of surfaire "to overdo", comprising sur "over" + faire "to do, make". French inherited its words from Latin super "over" and facere "to do, make". Latin super came from the same PIE source, uper "over", as Greek hyper "over, above" and English over and German über "over". We have seen the history of facere many times. It was made from PIE dhe-/dho- "to put, place". This word went into the making of words throughout the Indo-European languages: Sanskrit dadhati "puts, places". Greek tithenai "to put, place", Russian delat' "to make, do", Polish dsiac sie "to be happening", Lithuanian dèti "to put, embed", English do, and German tun. (Let us now thank Lew Jury appropriately and without surfeit, a long-standing contributor to this series, for today's jam-packed Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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