Words of the Day: Jurare, Habere, Able-bodied seaman

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. I like word etymologies so a lot of the words of the day will be root words.

Jurare. This classical Latin word means to swear. It’s a root for abjure: to give up on oath, renounce. It’s no surprise that it’s also in the etymology of jury.

Habere, to have, hold. It make me think of wedding vows. This definition is yours, habere, from this day forward…. Okay, so what modern word do you think this is part of? Are you able to guess? Able: having enough power, skill,etc. to do something [Middle English< Old French hable, habile< classical Latin habilis, easily handled, apt<habere, to have, hold, Indo-European base  *ghabh-, to grasp, take]. That’s a lot of power and encouragement in that little word. Next time someone tells me “you are able to do it” I will recognize their confidence in me.

Able-bodied seaman. I had no idea this was an actual term. It refers to “a trained merchant seaman, more highly skilled than, and ranking above, an ordinary seaman.” (There’s an entry for ordinary seaman too. Who would have thought it? Not this landlubber.)

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