Printable Version
Pronunciation: træn-kwil Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Peaceful, calm, free from any agitation or disturbance, serene, placid. 2. Steady, even, regular.

Notes: We may spell the derivational family of this word with a single L or double L, though the latter is mainly British. The noun is tranquility or tranquillity. The verb is tranquilize or tranquillize, which allows tranquilizer or tranquillizer, a drug used to render wild animals unconscious, though it is also defined as some person or drug that reduces tension and anxiety in people.

In Play: The most common sense of the word may appear in expressions like this: "After the tempestuous storm, the countryside became much cooler and starkly tranquil." The second sense of today's word, though less often encountered, may be used to express thoughts like this: "The twisting road became more tranquil as Malcolm's car advanced along it."

Word History: Today's Good Word came from English's favorite hunting grounds, French, by simply removing the suffix from tranquille after French had modified Latin tranquillus to suit itself. Latin inherited its word from some PIE word composed of trans- "over, across, exceeding" + kweie-/kwoie- "quiet", source also of Latin quie(t)s, which English borrowed for its quiet. We find it in Russian and Czech pokoj "tranquility" with the common Slavic prefix po-. Since [k] often became [h] in English, while (pronounced [hwail]) could have evolved from the same PIE word with an -l suffix. If so, that would imply the same source for German Weile "while". (Another kudos for Albert Skiles, a most prolific contributor, for today's lovely lilting Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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