Word: commensurate

Pronunciation: kə-MEN-sə-rət / kə-MEN-shə-rət

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: corresponding in size or degree; in proportion

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Have you ever woken up in the morning and suddenly been hit by a distant memory you didn’t even know was buried in your mind? I recently have. No matter how hard I think about it, I can’t seem to remember where I first saw or heard the word “commensurate”. What I do remember, however, is waking up one morning and suddenly realizing it had resurfaced in my memory. I’m not even sure why; maybe it had come up in my dream the night before, but I definitely woke up thinking about it, and I quickly made a note to add it to my blog’s vocabulary list, or at least look it up to remember what it meant. It must have just sounded nice in my head, because I can’t imagine what dream I could have been having that made any reference to proportions…

Anything “commensurate” with something else is proportionate to or corresponds to it in size or degree. The word comes from the Latin adjective commensuratus, meaning “equally measured”. The roots of this adjective are the preposition com “together” and the verb mensurare “to measure”.

Note that evidently there are two ways to use the word “commensurate”: either followed or not by the preposition “with”. From my understanding, this slightly alters the meaning of the word. On the one hand, when used without the word “with”, it works as a synonym to “equivalent” or “proportionate”, such as in “commensurate values”. On the other hand, followed by the preposition, it means something more like “corresponding to” or “in line with”, as in “salary commensurate with qualifications”. Be sure to keep this in mind if you use this word, and you can write stories of a quality “commensurate” with your knowledgeability!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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