Word: emolument

Pronunciation: ə-MAHL-yə-mənt

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: a salary, fee, or profit from employment or office

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


You may recall seeing today’s Word of the Week floating around the news a while back. A few months ago, some controversy in American politics likely sent a handful of people to the dictionary (myself included) to better understand the Title of Nobility Clause of the United States Constitution. Having done some research on the subject, I can understand why this was such a hot topic: we don’t want a president who’s going to be in violation of the “Emoluments” Clause from day one!

An “emolument” is a profit, salary, or fee from office or employment. The word arose in late Middle English and comes from the Latin noun emolumentum, meaning “advantage” or “benefit”. This noun derives from the verb emolere “to grind up”, which in turn consists of the preposition e- “throughout” and the verb molere “to grind”.

The original meaning of “emolument” in Latin was probably “payment to a miller for grinding grain”, hence its root in the Latin word for “grind”. This word is considered formal and is typically used in the plural form “emoluments”, as in the above example from the U.S. Constitution. If your stories include details about businesses and earnings from employment, “emolument” may be a good word to add to your vocabulary!

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

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