Word: ignominious

Pronunciation: ig-nə-MI-nee-əs

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: deserving or causing public disgrace or shame

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


How about a fun new word to kick off the humorous month of April? Have you ever found yourself—or put your characters—in a situation that was more than a little embarrassing? Or perhaps you’ve already overused words like “humiliating” and “mortifying” in your stories and need a new synonym to keep your writing fresh? If so, you may find some use for today’s Word of the Week! When a scenario is too embarrassing or shameful for common adjectives, try calling it “ignominious” instead!

To be “ignominious” is to cause or deserve public shame or disgrace. The word arose in late Middle English and traces back through the French adjective ignominieux to the Latin adjective ignominiosus, meaning “disgraceful”. This adjective stems from the noun ignominia “disgrace”, which in turn comprises two roots: the prefix in- “not” and the noun nomen “name”.

To be honest, the first time I read the word “ignominious”, I assumed it was similar in meaning to the word “ignorant”, though I suppose they aren’t too unrelated, as being the latter can lead to suffering the former. For the funny and ridiculously purple way it sounds, I myself would probably reserve the use of this word to humorous contexts, but I’m sure it can work just as easily, if not more appropriately, in formal writing. If your characters often find themselves in disgraceful and humiliating situations, “ignominious” may be a good word to add to your vocabulary list!

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

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