Word of the Day : August 12, 2017

temporize

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verb TEM-puh-ryze

Definition

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

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

Examples

"The pontiff's recent declaration to that effect brought headlines but no action….  Francis wouldn't be the first leader who temporized before doing something that had to be done. Think of Lincoln, who vexed abolitionists by waiting two years after his election before issuing the Emancipation Proclamation." — Rich Barlow, WBUR.org, 5 June 2014

"Ostensibly, 'Dan in Real Life' is about how Dan and Marie … figure out how to deal with their mutual attraction, even as she's supposed to be on the arm of Dan's genial but dim brother Mitch …. Of course, this particular problem isn't beyond the purview of mature adults: You smolder, you ponder, you temporize, it gets messy, you deal." — Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post, 26 Oct. 2007



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.



Word Family Quiz

What is the meaning of contretemps, a French-derived word rooted in Latin tempus?

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