Printable Version
Pronunciation: kên-sin-i-ti Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Harmony, elegant congruity, skillful fitting together, especially music, speech and writing, though any other thing that may be put together or arranged.

Notes: This word has a large family that is about to vanish from the English vocabulary. The adjective underlying this word is concinne "harmonious,well-fitted together, eleganly arranged". Concinnate is a verb derived from it, too, the noun for which is concinnation. Just remember the double N in all these words.

In Play: This word is most comfortable in speech about music and language: "William Shakespeare was the ultimate master of poetic concinnity of his day." However, any elegant congruity is susceptible to expression by this word: "It was the concinnity of the way he worked that wangled Philippe's way into Agnes's heart."

Word History: Today's Good Word was built upon the remains of archaic concinne "harmonious, well-fitted together, skillfully arranged" + -ity, a deadjectival noun suffix. Concinne was borrowed from the Latin adverb concinne "neatly". It is composed of con- "(together) with" + cin-, the combining form of cano "I sing, play (music), chant". Today in Portuguese and Spanish we still find cantar, in Italian cantare, and French chanter "to sing", which English borrowed for its chant. All these words derive from PIE kan- "to sing", source also of Welsh canu "singing" and Breton kan "song". This word descended through their Germanic ancestors to German Hahn "rooster", a notorious singer, and Old English as han "rooster", which today is hen. (This ancient word was discovered by wordmaster Lew Jury, who has been recommending Good Words via e-mail since 2005, the year after Good Words came on line.)

Dr. Goodword,

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