• recreant •
re-kri-ênt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun
Meaning: 1. Traitorous, unfaithful to a cause, said of a turn-coat who changes sides in a dispute. 2. Cowardly, chickenhearted, craven, dastardly, faint-hearted, lily-livered, pusillanimous.
Notes: No, we are not talking about someone who recreates himself or herself, nor has this word anything to do with recreation. This word is an adjective that may be used as easily as a noun: a recreant person in either sense of the adjective is a recreant. Such people are characterized by their recreance or, as others might say, their recreancy.
In Play: The connection between the two meanings of today's word is evident in such sentiments as this: "Lil Abner is a woman of such recreant character that she abandoned the struggle for the revolution when her uncle died and left her $50 million." We could just as well call Lil and those like her recreants, since this word also serves as a noun: "They are still talking about the recreants who left the Methodist Church and joined the Lutherans when the latter began serving martinis at their socials."
Word History: In Middle English today's Good Word was recreaunt "defeated" from Old French recreant, the present participle of recroire "to surrender". The French verb was inherited from Medieval Latin recredere "to yield, pledge allegiance", made up of re- "over, anew" + credere "to believe, trust". Though we aren't sure, it is quite possible that the root of Latin credere, cred-, was originally kerd- "heart", the same root underlying cordial. If so, it is related to all the words discussed in the Word History of that word. Credere itself spawned a variety of words borrowed by English relating to belief and trust, such as credo ("I believe" in Latin), creed, credit, (in)credible, and (in)credulous, to mention a few. (It would be recreant to alphaDictionary's credo of always thanking our contributors were I to forget to thank Husain Mustfa for suggesting today's Good Word.)
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