Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Word of the Day: Palliate

(I think the first two definitions are very appropriate for our current economic crisis. Definition courtesy of the essential online Webster Dictionary and this was a Word-of-the-Day entry from way back in 2004.)

palliate \PAL-ee-ayt\ verb

1 : to reduce the violence of (a disease); also : to ease (symptoms) without curing the underlying disease
2 : to cover by excuses and apologies
3 : to moderate the intensity of

Example sentence:
Roberta tried to palliate her actions with explanations and apologies, but Donald refused to accept her excuses.

Did you know?
Long ago, the ancient Romans had a name for the cloak-like garb that was worn by the Greeks (distinguishing it from their own "toga"); the name was "pallium." In the 15th century, English speakers modified the Late Latin word "palliatus," which derives from "pallium," to form "palliate." Our term, used initially as both an adjective and a verb, never had the literal Latin sense referring to the cloak you wear, but it took on the figurative "cloak" of protection. Specifically, the verb "palliate" meant (as it still can mean) "to lessen the intensity of a disease." Nowadays, "palliate" can be used as a synonym of "gloss" or "whitewash" when someone is attempting to disguise something bad.

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