Printable Version
Pronunciation: kæm-payn Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, verb

Meaning: A large-scale operation aimed at reaching a particular goal.

Notes: Today we have a word that is comfortable working as a noun or verb. The verb is treated as English, with a personal noun, campaigner with the present participle, campaigning, assuming the roles of adjective and action noun, It oddly comes with a French diminutive form, campaignlet, so rare my spell-checker doesn't like it.

In Play: This word started its life as a military term: "The Russian campaign to take Kiev inside a week was a colossal failure." The sense then expanded to include any large undertaking focused on a goal, particularly a political one: "It is common wisdom that you campaign for political office in poetry but govern from that office in prose."

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from French campagne, "countryside, (military) campaign, season", borrowed from Italian compagna "field, military operation". This word was inherited from Late Latin compania "level countryside", based on Classical Latin campus "field". How campus came to be in Latin remains a mystery, for there is no evidence of the origin of it in any other Indo-European language. It was probably borrowed from a non-IE language. French CA usually became CHA, as Latin castellus "castle" became French château "mansion" and Late Latin cattus became chat "cat". So we are surprised only by the hilliness of Champagne region in France. (Now a gracious round of e-applause to Ben Travato for today's fascinatingly mysterious Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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