Printable Version
Pronunciation: in-spi-rit Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. Instill courage, encourage, inspire hope, pick up the spirits. 2. To fill with the spirit of a supernatural being, to possess.

Notes: The difference between this word and inspire is that inspire means roughly "to positively influence" while inspirit means to influence in a particular way, as in 1. above. The present participle, inspiriting, serves as noun and adjective for inspirit.

In Play: Inspirit implies uplifting from some kind of dispiritment: "Martha Biggs has a strong presence that inspirits those working around her." It could be self-induced: "Ron Rico tried to inspirit himself at his favorite bar after being fired."

Word History: Today's Good Word obviously is made up of in + spirit. In derives from PIE en "in", source also of Latin in "in(to)", Greek en "in", Irish i "in", Welsh yn "in", and Albanian në "in". Spirit was a gift to English from Norman French spirit "spirit, soul", inherited from Latin spiritus "breath, soul" originally "the breath of God", for it is the noun from the verb spirare "to breathe". Latin spirare was inherited from PIE (s)peis- "to blow" with a Fickle S, so it also produced Sanskrit piččhora "pipe, flute", Russian pisk "cheep", and Lithuanian pyškėti "to flush". The Latin word also experienced rhotacism. (Now let's thank an old friend, Professor Kyu Ho Youm, Chair of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, for discovering today's fascinating Good Word and sharing it with us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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