Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-kawst Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: Approach and address aggressively or hostilely.

Notes: The sense of this word has become more and more pejorative as the years have scraped by. It comes with two action nouns: with a suffix, accostment, and without, accost.

In Play: Reporters represent a class of characters who do a lot of accosting: "Fame has its darker side, such as being accosted by a herd of noisy reporters every time you step outside." Accosts range from modest: "He was accosted by a lovely young female fan after the concert" to violent: "He was accosted and robbed by a masked bandit in the parking lot."

Word History: Today's word was borrowed from Middle French accoster "move up to, come alongside", inherited from Late Latin accostare "come up to the side of". The Latin word is composed of ad "(up) to" + costa "rib, side" with the assimilation of the D in the prefix to the initial C in cost-. English borrowed Old French coste "side, slope" later "coast, shore", modifying it to coast. French gnawed the same word down to côte as in Côte d'Azure "Azure Coast = French Riviera" and in Côte d'Ivoire "Ivory Coast". Old French acoster was used by sailors to mean "sail along a coast". (Lest this piece be taken as an accost on Rob Towart, let us now thank him for his latest contribution of a fascinating Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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