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July 7, 2020

Word of the Day: Anathematize

1 CQ

Word of the Day : September 25, 2017

anathematize \uh-NATH-uh-muh-tyze\ verb


: curse, denounce


"A great deal has happened in a very short time.… Feminist reforms in the home and workplace … have gained renewed momentum. Youth culture has anathematized bullying and accorded pride of place to nerd culture." — Jonathan Chait, The New York Magazine, 29 June 2015

"Its reception of [George] Orwell serves as a fascinating case study of Commonweal's history and editorial culture. The magazine's editors and contributors neither anathematized Orwell nor sprinkled him with holy water. Instead they simply gave him the respect they thought he deserved…." — John Rodden and John Rossi, Commonweal, 23 Sept. 2016

Did You Know?

When 16th-century English speakers needed a verb meaning "to condemn by anathema" (that is, by an official curse from church authority), anathematize proved to be just the right word. But anathematize didn't originate in English as a combination of the noun anathema and the suffix -ize. Rather, our verb is based on forebears in Late Latin (anathematizare) and Greek (anathematizein). Anathematize can still indicate solemn, formal condemnation, but today it can also have milder applications. The same is true of anathema, which now often means simply "a vigorous denunciation," or more frequently, "something or someone intensely disliked or loathed."

Aired September 25, 2017

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