Printable Version
Pronunciation: æ-prê-bay-shên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Approval, acceptance with praise.

Notes: Here is a more formal word for "approval", mostly used when formal approval is given by an administrative body. It is the noun for the verb approbate, seldom used since the 19th century. Someone who approves things is an approbator (notice the O in the ending), and the adjective is approbative.

In Play: Approbation has a more formal tone than approval: "Herschel's performance of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto received the approbation of the audience in the form of a standing ovation." When speaking of giants in their field, today's word sounds more fitting: "Shakespeare's plays did not always meet with critical approbation."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes directly from Latin approbatio(n) "an approval". This is the action noun from approbare "to assent to", comprising ad "(up)to" + probare "to try, test", from probus "worth, good, genuine". Already by Old French the B had become V in probar, giving French prover, so approbare had become approver. English borrowed approve from French and approbation directly from Latin. Probus was a derivation in PIE of per- "forward, ahead" + bheu- "to be, exist, grow" + a -b- suffix. Bheu- is also the source of English be and been, Greek phuein "to become, grow", and Latin fui "I have been". We also see it in Russian byt', Serbian biti, and Polish być, all meaning "to be". (A new but prolific contributor, Anna Jung, deserves our enthusiastic approbation for recommending today's surprisingly interesting Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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