Printable Version
Pronunciation: kahn-jê-gêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Connubial, matrimonial, related to marriage

Notes: Today's word connotes the sexual aspect of marriage more than its synonyms. It comes with an expectable adverb, conjugally (don't forget to double the L) and an equally predictable noun, conjugality.

In Play: The sexual connotation of marriage has a historically significant connection: "Until the Supreme Court ruled in 1967 in Loving v. Virginia, conjugal relations between races were called 'miscegenation' which was still illegal in 16 of the United States." If you ever want to imply the sexual side of marriage without saying it, this is the word for you: "Only four US states today allow conjugal visits in their prisons."

Word History: Today's Good Word was captured from French conjugal, which inherited it from its mother, Latin coniugalis "of marriage, conjugal", an adjective made from the verb coniugare "to join together". This word is made up of an assimilated version of com- "(together) with" + iugare "to join". Latin inherited iugare from PIE yeug-/youg- "to join", which also underlies Sanskrit yugam "yoke" and yogah "union", borrowed by English as yoga. We also see traces of it in Greek zygon "yoke", Latin iugum "yoke", Russian igo "yoke", Lithuanian jungas "yoke" and jungti "to join", Latvian jūgs "yoke", Welsh iau "yoke", Breton yev "yoke", German Joch "yoke", Dutch juk "yoke", Danish åg "yoke", Swedish ok "yoke" and English yoke. (We all owe Albert Skiles yet another word of gratitude for thinking of today's historically relevant Good word and sharing it with us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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