Word of The Day for Wednesday, May 4, 2011


se•qua•cious (si-KWEY-shuhs)  adj

1. logically following in regular sequence
2. lacking independence or originality of thought; slavishly unthinking and uncritical
3. disposed to follow, serve or imitate another or others, as a leader; especially unreasoningly or unthinkingly; servile; pliant
4. persisting in a continuous intellectual or stylistic direction

sequacity noun; sequaciously adverb

 1643; from L. sequac-, stem of sequax "that follows, a follower," from sequi "to follow" from PIE base *sekw- + -ous

Synonyms: compliant, following, obedient, servile, subservient
Related Words: obsequious, segue, sequence, sequel, second, consequence, ensue, suitor

Sentence Examples:
• The great city is both determined by, and determines, its environment; the great man is the product, and in turn the producer, of the culture of his nation. The human race is gregarious and sequacious, rather than individual and adventurous. - Horace and His Influence, Grant Showerman

• Ruyler endeavored to piece together those disconnected whispers--letters discovered or stolen--blackmail--but such whispers were too often the whiffs from energetic but empty minds, always floating about and never seeming to bring any culprit to book. Had this man got hold of his wife's secret? But this merely sequacious thought was promptly routed. - The Avalanche, Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton

• Milton was not an extensive or discursive thinker, as Shakspeare was; for the motions of his mind were slow, solemn, sequacious, like those of the planets; not agile and assimilative; not attracting all things within its own sphere; not multiform: repulsion was the law of his intellect--he moved in solitary grandeur. - Memorials and Other Papers, Thomas de Quincey

World Wide Words:

The adjective started out simply enough in the seventeenth century to refer to a person who was inclined to follow a leader; almost at once it took on the idea of slavishly or unreasoningly following the ideas of other people. It’s unusual but still around:

I could discern omens of nothing newer than the old fate of the sequacious: to be for ever at the mercy of the exploiting proclivities of the bold and buccaneering in their bullying and greed.
Prelude to Waking, by Miles Franklin, 1950

Other senses you may very occasionally come across are of a thing that follows another with logic and unwavering direction of thought or form, or of musical notes that succeed each other with unvarying regularity (Coleridge described “long sequacious notes” in a poem). I’d guess this is the sense meant in this rare modern example:

When she closed her fingers around it, the shapes flared briefly once more, and she saw that they were indeed runes: inexplicable to her, but sequacious and acute.
Fatal Revenant, by Stephen R Donaldson, 2007.

To call writing non-sequacious is to say that it lacks logic, that it jumps about from one topic to another and that it’s replete with non-sequiturs. That word is appropriate, since both sequacious and sequitur are from the Latin verb sequi, to follow, from which we also get sequel and sequence. The immediate source of sequacious is sequax, following; sequitur is the third-person present tense of sequi, meaning “it follows”, though it so often doesn’t that we mainly use the negative.

Sources: Free Dictionary, Dictionary.com, World Wide Words, Online Etymology , WordSmith

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