Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-men-ê-bêl; ê-meen-ê-bêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Tractable, compliant, agreeable, disposed to comply with, as 'amenable to reason'. 2. Fitting, susceptible, capable of being dealt with in a particular way, as 'issues amenable to legislation'.

Notes: Today's Good Word appears to come from a verb amen but, although English has such a verb, it means "conclude, ratify", so is unrelated. The underlying verb remained in French (see Word History). The adjective comes, as usual, with a noun, amenability, and an adverb, amenably. It is also amenable to the negative prefix, as in unamenable.

In Play: The first sense of this word often finds its way into discussions of negotiations: "Congress is now stymied by congressmen who are not amenable to compromise." The second sense of today's word is often met in medical discussions: "Ron Rico was told by his doctors that his headaches are not amenable to any kind of medical treatment."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Anglo-French amenable, based on Middle French amener "answer (to the law)". The word is a combination of à "to" + mener "to lead", from Latin minare "to drive (cattle)", a variation of minari "threaten", which also underlies the English borrowing menace. Latin obtained its verb from Proto-Indo-European men- "to project". We also find evidence of the PIE word in prominent and promontory, not to mention mount and mountain, ultimately from Latin mon(t)s "hill, mountain". Finally, the PIE word entered the Germanic languages independently, giving German Mund, Swedish mun, Dutch mond, and English mouth, all with the same meaning. (English was careless and lost the N along the way.)

Dr. Goodword,

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