Words of Note: Pugnacity

I’ve long subscribed to the idea that to write well one must first read well. That is not my conscious motive for reading, but a hopeful byproduct. One reason I enjoy old books is that in them I encounter words that have fallen out of use. For instance:

pugnacity

pugnacious /pəɡˈnāSHəs/ I. adjective eager or quick to argue, quarrel, or fight • the increasingly pugnacious demean of politicians. II. derivatives 1. pugnaciously /pəɡˈnāSHəslē / adverb 2. pugnacity /pəɡˈnasədē / noun – origin mid 17th cent.: from Latin pugnax, pugnac- (from pugnare ‘to fight,’ from pugnus ‘fist’) + -ious.

“I suppose it's wrong, but a state of pugnacity seems to me the greatest bliss which we can reach here on earth." —The Duchess of Omnium, The Prime Minister by Anthony Trollope

I’m afraid there are many today who belong to the duchess’ school of thought.

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