kê-see-no • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A luxurious entertainment establishment, usually offering gambling. 2. (Also spelled cassino) A card game for two to four players in which the 10 of diamonds is the card with the highest value.
Notes: Today's Good Word is a variant of casa found in the names of pizza parlors all over the US and the Spanish aphorism, mi casa, su casa "my house (is) your house". The plural is formed with just an S, not ES: casinos.
In Play: Casino began its life referring to an Italian cottage but today it is associated with large, luxurious, even gaudy gambling palaces: "Not only has Portia Radclyffe decorated her house like a casino, you gamble with your life if you dine there." Portia obviously needs to hire a new chef. Casinos are closely associated with money: "Jack Potts lost his heart to a blackjack dealer in a Las Vegas casino as well as most of his money."
Word History: Today's Good Word is the diminutive of the Italian word casa "house", inherited from Latin. By the 16th century it meant "summerhouse" throughout Europe. Some such houses came to be used as clubs, which soon added gambling, hence the word acquired its current meaning. By the middle of the 19th century it was so used in all European languages. The Italians then borrowed the word back from French with the new meaning, keeping the French accentuation [kah-see-no]. The meaning of the original Italian word then shifted to "bordello", which later softened to just "mess" and "racket". Che casino hai fatto! today means "What a mess you've made!" in Italian. (We hope we haven't made a mess of Sterling Bebout's suggestion of today's wayward Good Word so he will send us more.)