Printable Version
Pronunciation: klahk Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A mechanical device for measuring time larger than a watch, a timepiece. 2. A source of regularly occurring electronic pulses used to synchronize operations of a computer's components.

Notes: Here is an ordinary word with an interesting history. It may be used as a verb meaning "time with a clock or watch", hence the personal noun clocker. Doing something like clockwork means "doing it perfectly, without a hitch".

In Play: : Clock towerThis word may be used several ways figuratively: "I can't pick you up now; I'm still on the clock" indicates you are still at work. It can also refer colloquially to the ageing process as 'biological clock'. Referring to circadian cycles, we may say: "Our biological clocks are generally synchronized with the day-night cycle of our home country."

Word History: Today's Good Word goes back to Middle English clok(k)e, which was borrowed from either Middle Dutch clocke (modern Dutch klok "bell, clock") or from Old Northern French cloque. In the Germanic languages we find German Glocke "bell" (as in Glockenspiel "bell-play"), and Norwegian klokka, Swedish klocka, Danish klokke—all meaning "bell" and "clock". The association between bells and clocks goes back to the time when European town halls had bell towers to which clocks that struck the hours were later added. The French cloque descended directly from late Latin clocca, which apparently picked it up from a Celtic language. We find Old Irish cloc (Modern Irish clog), Cornish cloch, Breton kloc'h—all meaning "bell". (Barbara Beeton thought the connection between bells and clocks would make clock a great Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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