Word of the Day : October 16, 2013


adjective PRISS-teen


1 : belonging to the earliest period or state : original

2 a : not spoiled, corrupted, or polluted (as by civilization) : pure

b : in perfect condition : fresh and clean as or as if new

Did You Know?

When "pristine" was anglicized in the 16th century, people borrowed the meanings of "early" and "original" from the Latin word "pristinus" and applied those meanings to what is desirable as well as to what is not. But it has long been a tendency of civilized people to admire a simpler and unsullied past. The supposition is that when things were in their oldest or original state, they were better. Thus, "pristine" was extended to describe the notion of an unspoiled, uncorrupted, or unpolluted state. And what is unspoiled or uncontaminated may connote the freshness and cleanness of something that has just been made, which explains how "pristine" has also come to mean "fresh and clean."


"Our friend … had lost a great deal of his pristine timidity, and was now, especially when fortified with liquor, as talkative as might be." - From William Makepeace Thackeray's 1847-48 novel Vanity Fair

"The trail does not rise for a summit view, but instead is nearly flat on top and is routed for a mile amid lush, waist-high bracken ferns below an old-growth pine forest, and aside creeks and pristine meadows with wildflowers." - From an article by Tom Stienstra in The San Francisco Chronicle, September 1, 2013

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