Printable Version
Pronunciation: sêr-kêm-spekt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Prudent, thoughtful, cautious, taking into consideration all sides before reaching a decision.

Notes: This word belongs to a large extended family of words built on -spect, like inspect, expect, prospect, and suspect. The adverb that comes with it is circumspectly, and the noun, circumspection.

In Play: Calm thoughtfulness is always implied by today's Word: "The deportment of the gathering was as calm and circumspect as an Amish meeting." The slowness implied by thoughtfulness is assumed to be the result of taking into consideration all sides of an issue: "Had he been more circumspect, Harley Davidson would not have asked Marian Kine to marry him so soon after her divorce."

Word History: Today's Good Word was clearly taken from Latin circumspectus "deliberate, well-considered", comprising circum "around" + specere "to look". Circum is the accusative case of circus "ring", the shape of arenas where races were staged. Latin created its word from PIE (s)ker-/(s)kor- "to turn, bend", source also of Greek Kirkos "ring, circle" and kyrtos "curved, arched", Latin curvus "crooked, bent", Albanian kërrus "bow, hunch", Russian kruchit' "to twist", Scotts Gaelic sgreang "screw", Welsh sgriw "screw", and English screw. Specere comes from PIE spek-/spok- "to watch, observe", as found in Sanskrit spasta "one who sees well", and German spähen "to peer" and Späher "scout". You might recall the odd metathetic change from spek-/spok- to skep-/skop in Greek. We find there words like skeptomai "to look at" and skopos "watcher". (Now a bow to very circumspect wordmaster William Hupy, for his 161st excellent Good Word since 2006.)

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!