Printable Version
Pronunciation: ko-jênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Clear and compelling, logical, rational, appealing to reason.

Notes: We live in times when politics is far from cogent. Still, this word survives with its adverb, cogently, and noun, cogency.

In Play: This word comes in handy when talking about making cases: "Ferdi could not make a cogent case for helicopter ejector seats." He also failed to make one for electric forks. Cogent is also useful in distinguishing good arguments from bad ones: "Greta offered a cogent and convincing argument for trying to settle the dispute by negotiation before resorting to war."

Word History: Our word today was borrowed from Latin cogen(t)s, the present participle of cogere "to drive together, to collect". Cogere is made up of an assimilated form of com "together" + agere "to move, lead, drive, conduct". Latin inherited com from PIE kom- "beside, near, (together) with"). As a prefix it is reduced to co- before vowels. Otherwise, it becomes col- before words beginning with L, before words starting on R it becomes cor-, and before all other consonants it assimilates to con-. Latin made agere from PIE ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move". The Latin participle of this word is agen(t)s "moving", which English borrowed as agent and agenda. The past participle was actus, which found its way into English act, actor, actual and several other words.

Dr. Goodword,

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