Printable Version
Pronunciation: sho-fêr, sho-fêr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A professional private car driver.

Notes: You might have noticed that today's Good Word has two pronunciations. Most people in the US pronounce this word [sho-fêr], while those who can afford a chauffeur tend to preserve more of the French pronunciation: [sho-fêr]. (Home, James!) The noun may be used naked as a verb meaning "to serve as a driver" even without money changing hands, as to chauffeur someone around.

In Play: Not much can be made of the noun chauffeur; it refers to a hired driver and not much else: "I made my way to my current position in this company by submitting suggestions based on information my sister collected from the president's chauffeur." The verb allows us much more leeway: "After chauffeuring three kids and their soccer team around two towns all day, you expect me to be romantic?"

Word History: Chauffeur is the French word for "stoker", from the verb chauffer "to heat, stoke" at a time when cars ran on steam, not gasoline. The French word probably evolved from a Vulgar (street) Latin word calefare, a descendant of Classical Latin calefacere "to make hot, get in trouble". This compound comprises calor "heat" + facere "to make, do". English has benefitted from all these words. The French word chauffer "to heat" was taken over as chafe "to warm or irritate by rubbing", which also shows up in that buffet warmer known as the chafing dish. Latin calor "heat" went into the making of English calorie, while factus "done, made", the past participle of facere, is the origin of English fact. (Today we thank our South African friend, Chris Stewart, for another hot Good Word, even if he is just passing it on from his chauffeur.)

Dr. Goodword,

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