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Pronunciation: i-klept Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: (Archaic) By the name of, named, called, known as.

Notes: In our historical readings, we might bump into this word spelled ycleped. It was originally the past participle of the equally archaic verb clepe, from Old English clipian. However, ignorance of the function of the prefix y- led to many writers assuming the underlying verb is yclepe.

In Play: The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) contains examples up to 1900, but Michael Quinion (RIP) found an example as late as 1997 in the Jerusalem Post: "The caption under the photo of the unfortunately yclept basketball player just makes matters worse: 'David Putz dribbles away. . .'."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a holdover from Middle English, which was in Old English geclypod, the past participle of clypian "to call, name". The prefix ge- is still used as a past participle indicator in Modern German: geben "to give" : gegeben "given", sprechen "to speak" : gesprochen "spoken". The prefix comes from the same source as Latin cum and com- "(together) with", Proto-Indo-European kom "beside, by, with". English borrowed scads of words from Latin beginning with assimilated and unassimilated forms of com-: comment, contain, correct and collect. The PIE word was also the origin of Greek koinos "common" and the Russian prefix s(o)- "coming together from all directions", from Proto-Slavic s"n-. According to the OED, this is a much-affected literary archaism adopted by Elizabethan and subsequent poets. In less dignified writing it was often used for the sake of quaintness or the result of humorous intent.

Dr. Goodword,

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