Trend Watch

New Joe Ide Novel Causes 'Righteous' Spike

'Righteous' trends as reviews arrive for titular novel

Righteous asserted itself with the confidence of the virtuous, and positioned itself as one of our top lookups on October 16th, 2017, after the word made numerous appearances in reviews of a new novel by Joe Ide.

The search for the truth can be righteous; so can helping someone who feels powerless. Even anger can be righteous as unofficial private detective Isaiah “IQ” Quintabe learns in Joe Ide’s excellent second novel, “Righteous.”
— Oline H. Cogdill, Associated Press, 16 Oct. 2017

We provide an assortment of definitions for righteous, including religious (“acting in accord with divine or moral law”), general (“arising from an outraged sense of justice or morality”), and slang (“genuine, excellent”). In its current form righteous dates in use from the early 16th century.

Let a ryghteous man then consydre how grete a felicite hit is to haue god fall vnto hym as his enherytaunce hit foloweth in the psalme.
— Giovanni Francesco, Here is Conteyned the Lyfe of Iohan Pico, 1525

The earlier form of righteous provides a nice illustration of its etymology; in Middle English the word was typically found as rightwise, which in turn came from the Old English rihtwīs (from riht, “right” and wīs, “wise”). Although there was a degree of overlap between rightwise and righteous the latter has become the more common example.

But Abimalech had not yet come nye her, & he sayde: Lorde wylte thou sley ryghtwyse people?
— Anon., The Byble in Englyshe, 1540

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