Printable Version
Pronunciation: kor-jêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun

Meaning: 1. (Adjective) Warm and genuinely friendly, affectionate, heartfelt, sincere. 2. (Noun) A sweet fruit-flavored liqueur such as Amaretto, Grand Marnier, Kahlua, Limoncello, Sambuca, often syrupy so as to mix well with water or another alcoholic beverage.

Notes: Today's Good Word is common enough to have picked up a derivational following. The noun is cordiality and the adverb, cordially. A verb, cordialize, has been tried on occasion but without enthusiasm since the suffix mars an otherwise lovely word.

In Play: Cordials, the drink, are usually offered in an atmosphere of cordiality: "Why, thank you, Sam; it is quite cordial of you to offer me a cordial. I wouldn't mind a dram of Drambuie." Alcohol is not at all necessary for cordiality, though; just sincere congeniality: "I have heard that relations between Heather Fields and Pete Moss have become most cordial. Are wedding bells in their future?"

Word History: Today's Good Word originated in Latin cordialis "of or for the heart," from cor, cordis "heart", coeur today in French and corazón in Spanish. The root of this word, PIE kerd-/kord- "heart", in fact, emerged in most of the Indo-European languages: English heart, German Herz, Welsh craidd, Russian serdce, Lithuanian sirdis, Greek kardia, Hittite kir, and Breton kreiz all come from the same root. The Slavic languages also created a separate word from it: Serbian sreda "middle" and Russian sereda "center". Guess why. The original drinks called cordials were thought to be beneficial for the heart. The noun results from a shortening of a phrase similar to "cordial draught" or "cordial drink" back when cordial simply meant "of or for the heart". (Let us all offer a cordial word of thanks to Rob Towart for suggesting today's very pleasant Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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