Word of The Day for Wednesday, November 17, 2010


dis•qui•si•tion (dis-kwuh-ZISH-uhn)  n

a lengthy, formal discourse that analyses or explains some topic; a dissertation or treatise

disquisitive, disquisitory adjective 


c.1600, from L. disquisitionem (nom. disquisitio) "an inquiry, investigation," noun of action from pp. stem of disquirere "inquire," from dis- "apart" + quaerere "seek, ask". Sense of "long speech" first recorded 1640s.

Synonyms: discourse, commentary, dissertation, exposition, treatise
Related Words: query quaere "ask," imperative of quaerere
require re- "repeatedly" + quaerere "ask, seek"
conquer com-, intensive prefix, + quaerere "to seek, acquire"
question quæstionem "a seeking, inquiry," from root of quaerere
acquisition ad- "extra" + quaerere "to seek to obtain"
exquisite ex- "out" + quaerere "to seek"
inquire in- "into" + quærere "ask, seek"

Sentence Examples:
• New England ports, the Houstons of their era, and fortunes were built with whale oil money. At one point, the United States exported a million gallons a year to Europe, according to Philip Hoare, author of “The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea,” an obsessive disquisition on all matters cetacean, published in March. -2010

• I consider the English alphabet only as it is English; and even in this narrow disquisition I follow the example of former grammarians, perhaps with more reverence than judgment, because by writing in English I suppose my reader already acquainted with the English language, and consequently able to pronounce the letters of which I teach the pronunciation; and because of sounds in general it may be observed, that words are unable to describe them. -A Grammar of the English Tongue, Samuel Johnson

• I remember once reading a very comical disquisition in one of Buffon's works on the question as to whether or not a crocodile was to be classified as an insect; and the instructive feature in the disquisition was this, that although a crocodile differs from an insect as regards every conceivable particular of its internal anatomy, no allusion at all is made to this fact, while the whole discussion is made to turn on the hardness of the external casing of a crocodile resembling the hardness of the external casing of a beetle; and when at last Buffon decides that, on the whole, a crocodile had better not be classified as an insect, the only reason given is, that as a crocodile is so very large an animal, it would make “altogether too terrible an insect.” -The Scientific Evidences of Organic Evolution, George John Romanes

The Storyline
This, in turn, elicited a lengthy disquisition from her mother on the topic of "taking life more seriously."

Why This Word:
Disquisition is just a good, solid word every person with an inquisitive mind ought to have in their vocabulary.

Sources: Wiktionary, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

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