Word of the Day : June 18, 2011

temporize

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verb TEM-puh-ryze

Definition

1 : to act to suit the time or occasion : yield to current or dominant opinion

2 : to draw out discussions or negotiations so as to gain time

Did You Know?

"Temporize" comes from the Medieval Latin verb "temporizare" ("to pass the time"), which itself comes from the Latin noun "tempus," meaning "time." "Tempus" is also the root of such words as "tempo," "contemporary," and "temporal." If you need to buy some time, you might resort to temporizing -- but you probably won't win admiration for doing so. "Temporize" can have a somewhat negative connotation. For instance, a political leader faced with a difficult issue might temporize by talking vaguely about possible solutions without actually doing anything. The point of such temporizing is to avoid taking definite -- and possibly unpopular -- action, in hopes that the problem will somehow go away. But the effect is often just to make matters worse.


Examples

I hope city council members will take swift action at today’s meeting, but I’m worried that they are more likely to temporize.

"The more the Security Council temporizes, compromises and weakens these resolutions, the more defiant and ambitious Iran becomes." -- From a staff editorial in The New York Times, February 10, 2011



Test Your Memory

What word completes this sentence from a recent Word of the Day piece: "The forest floor was dappled with __________ flecks of golden sunlight filtering down through the leafy branches"? The answer is ...


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