• vivacious •
vi-vay-shês, vai-vay-shês • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Lively and animated, high-spirited, vibrant, spirited, lively, pert, energetic, cheerful, sassy (said mostly of women).
Notes: Today's Good Word is shifting away from its true meaning. I hear it used as a near synonym to voluptuous. The meaning of voluptuous is too sexy; vivacious has nothing to do with sex. The adverb, of course, is vivaciously, and we have our choice of nouns, the clumsier vivaciousness or the smoother vivacity.
In Play: Remember, this word has nothing to do with sexiness: "All of my granddaughters are vivacious little girls with above average intelligence." It simply refers to the liveliness of women: "Gladys is a rather plain-looking woman, but vivacious as all get-out."
Word History: Today's Good Word arose in the mid-18th century, concocted from Latin vivax (vivac-s) "long-living, vigorous", from vivere "to live", inherited from PIE gwei- "to live" plus a [-k] (spelled -C in Latin) suffix. English inherited the same stem via its Germanic ancestors as quick, which originally meant "alive", as in the phrase 'the quick and the dead'. It has since come to mean "painful", as 'to cut to the quick'. Apparently, the [g] became [h] in Latin and, as in so many English dialects, faded away, leaving the [w] to become [v]. In Greek the same thing happened except the [w] became [b], as in bios "life".
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