Printable Version
Pronunciation: singk-chUr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. The action of encircling or girdling, going all the way around something. 2. Any item such as a belt or sash worn around the waist, especially around the habit of a monk or nun. 3. Any object that encircles, as 'the cincture of seas that girds the Earth'.

Notes: I have been noticing a wide variety of objects used as belts or sashes on women's clothes over the past few years. Today's word is a good one to indicate either a belt or sash, but it also applies to anything worn around the waist: a scarf, neckerchief, a braid of flowers, or chain of handkerchiefs. We may also cincture these objects to our waists; that is, we may also use this word as a verb.

In Play: I've been told that what goes around, comes around. Well, that sounds very much like a cincture: "Cal O'Bash sat in his lounge chair with a cincture of smoke from his pipe circumnavigating his head." Most often this word refers to things that go around the waist: "Rose Bush wore a cincture of clover blossoms around her waist to the picnic."

Word History: Here is another Good Word that English borrowed from French. It originated in Latin cinctura, derived from the verb cingere "to gird". The other noun from this verb, cingulum "girdle", became Spanish cincha "girth, saddle strap", which English borrowed as cinch. Because the cinch that holds a saddle on a horse is tight and secure, this word went on to assume the meaning "a sure thing"—'That's a cinch!' A tightly written document is succinct, a word from Latin succingere "to tuck up from below" (as 'to ready for battle), originally from sub "(from) below" + cingere. (Now I will tighten up today's Good Word with a note of thanks to N. J. Olsen, who suggested we explore surcingle, a band for tying objects to the backs of animals. I thought the meaning of today's word close but broader in meaning, and thus more widely applicable. Larry Brady suggested the name Cal O'Bash.)

Dr. Goodword,

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