Printable Version
Pronunciation: kæth-ê-lik Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Universal, comprehensive, including everything relevant. 2. (Catholic) Related to the universal Christian church with headquarters in the Vatican in Rome.

Notes: Like many adjectives ending on -ic, the meaningless suffix -al may be attached to this one without harm to its meaning. Before adding the adverb suffix, -ly, however, -al must be present: catholically. In the lay sense of the word, the noun is catholicity and in the religious sense, Catholicism. Be careful not to drop the middle vowel: there is strong pressure to syncopate today's word and pronounce it simply [kth-lik]. Avoid the temptation.

In Play: Any time you need a shorter and more impressive expression for all-inclusive, today's Good Word will work fine: "Frieda Gogh's parties are quite catholic; you meet people of all races, religions, and persuasions there." Today's word goes beyond the meaning of eclectic to imply a mixture that includes everything: "Ty Coone's mansion is decorated in a catholic style, using all the souvenirs he has collected in his travels around the world."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes to us from Latin catholicus "universal", borrowed from the Greek katholikos. The Greek adjective comes from the word katholou "generally, universally", based on kata "down, according to" + holos "whole". Holos comes from the Proto-Indo-European root sol- "whole, everything in one", which was rendered solus "alone" (= all one) in Latin. This word underlies many English words, including sole, solo, taken from Italian, and solitude, borrowed from French. (Today the lexically catholic mind of Perry Dror is due our gratitude for suggesting we do this Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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