• vest •
vest • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, Verb
Meaning: 1. [Noun] A sleeveless shirt or jacket. 2. [Verb] To grant control or authority to someone or some group, to place or invest, as to vest trust in someone or something.
Notes: The participle-adjective from this verb, vested, has several meanings. It can mean "dressed in ecclesiastical garb", as a vested priest, or just "having a vest" as a vested suit. In its reference to clothing, it refers to a related word, vestments, the liturgical clothing worn in some religions. In law it means "legal without any contingency" as a vested right or inheritance or "providing an advantage" as in vested interest.
In Play: Since the article of clothing (a vest) is familiar to everyone, today we will focus on the verb to vest: "I think it would be a mistake to vest much faith in the law firm of Dewey, Cheatham & Howe." This verb is used most frequently in its past participle form: "The right to run the household was vested in the elder son by the will."
Word History: As odd as it seems, the two meanings of today's Good Word diverged from the single meaning of "to clothe, to dress". The original Proto-Indo-European root *wes- has precisely that meaning. In northern England it underwent rhotacism ([s] > [r] between vowels) to become Old English werian, which went on to become wear. In Latin the [w] became [v], resulting in vestis "garment", something worn. The original sense of the verb meaning "to grant authority" was to place authority on a person as you would vestments of authority. (We thank Michael Oberndorf for vesting in us the opportunity to vet today's Good Word before our most fortunate subscribers.)