Printable Version
Pronunciation: sê-sep-tiv Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Sensitive, easily affected by something, susceptible. 2. Open to new ideas or suggestions, receptive.

Notes: We are all familiar with susceptible (remember that the ending is -ible, not -able), but today's word is less often used. The meanings of these two adjectives are similar, but while susceptible refers to weak resistance (susceptible to colds), susceptive refers to an openness, especially to things new. This word has several relatives, though their meanings vary a bit. A susceptor is a sponsor or godfather. Susceptivity is the best noun for this adjective, though susception is possible, too.

In Play: You will find many situations around the office where today's Good Word applies: "Mr. Farthingsworth was very susceptive to my reorganization plan except for the part requiring his resignation." This word applies equally well to labor and management: "I find Will Dolittle less than susceptive to hints that he apply himself more diligently to his work."

Word History: Today's Good Word is yet another Latin captive that English has never released. Its Roman name is susceptivus, the adjective from suscipere "to catch, support, sustain". This verb is a touched-up version of the combination sub "below, under" + capere "to take, seize". When the Romans added the suffix -er to sub, they came up with its antonym super "above, over". In fact, Latin created sub from a combination of ex "out (of) + upo "from under", so it originally meant "out from under". The implication of motion upward here probably led to the meaning of super. The Germanic languages didn't fool around with PIE upo this way but merely converted it to German auf "on" and English up.

Dr. Goodword,

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