Gratuitous – the devolution of a good word

Like gratitude, grace, and congratulate, gratuitous is a descendant of the Latin wordgratus, which means “pleasing” or “grateful.” When gratuitous was first used in the middle of the 17th century, it meant “free” or “given without return benefit or compensation.” The extended meaning “done without good reason” or “unwarranted” came about just a few decades later, perhaps from the belief held by some people who one should not give something without getting something in return.

In addition to my Sunday Snippets, Good Friar has a word for today. Gratefully yours, Perpetua.


From Merriam Webster’s “Word of Day

Definition (adjective)
1 : done or provided without recompense : free
2 : not called for by the circumstances : unwarranted

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