• alacrity •
ê-læ-krê-tee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)
Meaning: Willing promptness in responding, cheerful briskness.
Notes: Today is 'two-for-one-day' at alphaDictionary: we are talking about both alacrity and its near synonym, celerity. Both these words refer to quickness or speed. Celerity is a neutral term for swiftness though the cleanness in its sound further implies a certain smoothness. Alacrity refers only to human quickness for it also connotes willingness if not eagerness to move swiftly. This word's adjective is an oddball: alacritous may be used with or without the [t], i.e. alacrious, though the latter is a bit dated.
In Play: Today's word refers to a willing, eager speed: "The people of this nation responded to the plight of the victims of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans with an alacrity unknown to the government." Use this word to measure the zeal with which someone responds to a challenge: "Jessie Skape cleaned the restrooms of the restaurant where he worked with little alacrity."
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Latin alacritas, the noun from the adjective alacer "quick, eager, lively" + -itas, a noun suffix. It shares a source with Old English ellen "zeal, courage", which didn't make it down to us, but did in Modern German as eilen "to hurry". Latin alacer came to Italian as allegro "happy, cheerful", which English-speaking musicians borrowed, too, in the sense of "brisk, lively (with alacrity)". (We are happy that Tim Ward brought up today's Good Word in the Agora with such alacrity as we could not ignore.)
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