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Otiose: Word Wednesday – Improve Your Word Power

Otiose is the choice for today’s Word Wednesday and, as is often the case, the word came to me as I was writing a piece elsewhere. Otiose is a word much-used by judges and lawyers and is often used as a device to spell out that the argument being advanced, legal or on the facts, is a load of baloney. So professionally polite!

Merriam-Webster says this:

adjective oti·ose \ˈō-shē-ˌōs, ˈō-tē-\
Popularity: Bottom 50% of words
Definition of otiose
: producing no useful result : futile
: being at leisure : idle
: lacking use or effect : functionless
otiosely adverb

otioseness noun
otiosity \ˌō-shē-ˈä-sə-tē, ˌō-tē-\ noun

Examples of otiose in a sentence
<since you haven’t read the book, I suppose that it would be otiose to inquire what you thought of it>

Did You Know?
Otiose was first used in English in the late-18th century to describe things producing no useful result. By mid-19th century, it was being used in keeping with its Latin source otiosus, meaning “at leisure.” There is also the noun form otiosity, which predates otiose by approximately three centuries. That noun is rarely found in writing today, but it makes an appearance on the occasional spelling bee word list.

Origin and Etymology of otiose
Latin otiosus, from otium leisure

First Known Use: 1794

otiose Synonyms
abortive, barren, bootless

Perhaps its use is restricted to the legal profession in modern times? Witness the top Facebook comment at the M-W otiose definition page:

Lewis Campbell · Attorney/Owner at Law Office of Lewis O Campbell
The word was used in an article Linguistic Relativism and Decline of the Rule of Law by Richard A Epstein. “This type of relativism easily extends to other terms, most notably ‘Liberty’ and ‘coercion ‘ which have similarly been attacked as otiose…”
Like · Reply · Jun 26, 2016 8:41pm

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