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Saint Ignatius High School

Etymology Word of the Week

Director of Admissions Pat O'Rourke '90, a self-proclaimed "word nerd," brings you his Etymology Word of the Week. Every other week he presents an online Etymology lesson just for fun!

Etymology Word of the Week – As some of you know, in addition to working in the Admissions Office, I also teach Latin at Saint Ignatius and am something of a "word nerd."  Thus, each week, I’ll sneak a vocabulary word (sometimes derived from Latin, sometimes not) into the e-blast.  Here then is this week’s edition of the Etymology Word of the Week.  

Prestigious - “practicing magic or illusion; juggling; deluding, deceiving.”  NB: in the last 100 years, a more positive sense of this word, as in “honored, esteemed, having a high reputation,” has become the popular definition.  From the Latin noun praestigium meaning “illusion, trick'' which comes from the Latin verb praestringere meaning “blindfolded, dazzled“ (which itself is a combination of the Latin preposition prae meaning “before, in front of” and the Latin verb stringere meaning “to tie or bind”).  (All information is from, and/or

RELATED WORDS/PHRASES – prestige, presto, prestidigitation (fancy word for magic or legerdemain, a.k.a. sleight of hand)

SAMPLE SENTENCE: “Being named Valedictorian (and thus getting to ‘say farewell’ to one’s classmates at the Baccalaureate Mass or ceremony) is quite a prestigious honor.”