Printable Version
Pronunciation: kæm-pes-trêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Pertaining to open uncultivated fields or open countryside, hence rural, rustic.

Notes: This rarely used adjective has an even rarer variant: campestrial. It seems to be a lexical orphan, but by analogy its adverb would be campestrally and noun, campestrality.

In Play: The implication of this word is that something is far away from urban life: "Since Himmelreich lost his bid for county commissioner, he has been living in campestral seclusion." It is sometimes used by biologists to reflect the geological characteristics of open plains: "Elephants prefer campestral living space and avoid forests and jungles."

Word History: Today's Good Word is based on the Latin adjective campestris "pertaining to a campus", where the noun campus means "level field, plain". In ancient Rome, a campus was a place for games, athletic practice, and military drills. How this word came to be in Latin is unknown; however, it has served well all Indo-European languages that have borrowed it. English borrowed the word twice, once untouched as campus, and again without the Latin nominal suffix, as camp. French turned the word into champ "field" and then, from the Latin derivation campio(n) "gladiator, fighter", champion, which English also borrowed. Another interesting word derived from campus is scamper. This was taken from Old French escamper "to flee, quit the battlefield, escape". French inherited this word from Vulgar (Street) Latin excampare "to decamp, leave the field", based on the phrase ex "(away) from" + campo, the ablative of campus. (The mysterious Grogie, who has haunted the Alpha Agora since it came on line in 2005, suggested we might be interested in today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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