Words of the Day: Abattre and Abecedarius

As a writer it’s important that I have a large vocabulary, so I have decided to read through the dictionary. To keep me accountable I will post my favorite words from each dictionary page. Definitions come from Webster’s New World Dictionary of American English, Third College Edition.

Word etymologies are usually interesting so I’ve chosen a couple of root words today.

Abattre is Old French meaning “to beat down.” It is a root for “abate,” meaning “make less in amount, degree, force, etc.”, as well as “abatis,” a barricade of felled trees with sharp points (like branches) pointed toward the enemy. I couldn’t find a picture of it, but as an old movie fan this reminded me of the barricade of sharpened logs used to block Blanco Canyon in The Big Country. Abatoir” is another fun word to say with “abatrre” as a root and you definitely feel a tad French with the “twär’ ” sound on the end. However, I wouldn’t recommend throwing it around in everyday conversation, unless you’re a farmer, since it refers to a slaughterhouse.

Abecedarius is middle Latin word referring to A,B,C,D. It is a root for Abecedarian, essentially a fancy word for kindergartner since it refers to someone learning the alphabet, or any beginning student actually.