Printable Version
Pronunciation: vai Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive

Meaning: To compete, to contend, to strive for victory or superiority.

Notes: Today's Good Word has a spelling quirk: its present participle trades the I for a Y: vying. Otherwise, its conjugation is normal: vies and vied. This word has but one derivational relative, vier "someone who vies", but the present participle may be used as an adjective. Vie differs only slightly from rival and compete. Rival doesn't mean to compete for superiority, just to measure up to, as in 'His intelligence rivals his wife's'. Vie and compete are synonyms.

In Play: Vie implies competition for which there are few victors: "Every year there are about five nominees vying for each Oscar at the Academy Awards ceremony." We all vie for things at some point in our lives: "Herman found himself vying with William Arami for the hand of Lucy Lastik."

Word History: Today's word entered English in the 1560s with the sense "to bet, make a bet" in connection with card games. It is a shortened form of Middle English envie "make a challenge" from Old French envier "to compete" or, in gambling, "to bet". French inherited the word from Latin invitare "to invite, entertain, to be pleasant toward", comprising in "in(to)" + a second element, vit-, which is obscure. It may have evolved from PIE weie- "pursue something vigorously", which would connect it with violent and vehement. It might have come from wen- "to strive for, desire", which would relate it to venus "love, sexual desire" and with Venus, the goddess of love. The other word sharing this origin is venison, which started out as Latin venatio(n) "hunting". The third theory is that these two PIE words are variants of the same root with a suffix -n added to weie.

Dr. Goodword,

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