Printable Version
Pronunciation: prah-vins Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. (Historical) A territory outside ancient Rome under a Roman governor. 2. An administrative unit of some countries, equivalent to a US state. Canada has provinces. 3. (Poetic) A geographical region, subdivision, territory. 4. Sphere of interest or concern, area of knowledge. 5. (Usually, the provinces) A rural area, region outside cities.

Notes: Today's Good Word originally referred to geological regions both specific and vaguely defined. The adjective is provincial "regional, rural", which has a noun provinciality that refers to the quality of the provinces, plus provincialism "a characteristic of some province, especially a feature of speech". This noun may be used as a mass noun referring to loyalty to one's own region.

In Play: The basic and most common use is in reference to geographical areas: "The Donetsk and Luhansk provinces (oblasts) comprise the Donbas region of Ukraine, the industrial heart of the country." Here is a sentence that exemplifies the last two meanings above: "I'm afraid attitudes toward global warming in the provinces lie outside my province, so I couldn't comment on them."

Word History: Today's Good Word was lent to English by Old French, where it meant "administrative unit of a state". French inherited its word from Latin provincia "Roman-controlled territory outside Rome". It was probably constructed from pro "forward, forth" + vincere "to conquer", a nasalized form of PIE weik- "to fight, conquer", source also of the unnasalized words victor "conqueror" and victima "sacrifice, victim". Latin convincere "to overcome, convict" was borrowed twice by English, as convince and convict, from the past participle of provincere, convictus. Further evidence for weik- is found in Welsh gwych "great, excellent", Lithuanian apveikti "to overpower", and English witch and wicca. (Today's avenue-filled Good Word is a gift from wordmaster William Hupy, to whom we owe a great deal of gratitude.)

Dr. Goodword,

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