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A Word A Day — sedulous

August 26, 2012

Word of the Day

  • sedulous
  • audio pronunciation
  • \SEJ-uh-lus\


: involving or accomplished with careful perseverance
: diligent in application or pursuit

Daphne was a sedulous student whose hard work and determination earned her a number of college scholarships.

"We were sedulous. We were driven. Our vocabularies were formidable and constantly expanding." — From a short story by Molly Patterson in The Atlantic, May 21, 2012


No fooling—the word "sedulous" ultimately comes from the Latin "se dolus," which literally means "without guile." Those two words were eventually melded into one, "sedulo," meaning "sincerely" or "diligently," and from that root developed Latin "sedulus" and English "sedulous." Don’t let the "sed-" beginning mislead you; "sedulous" is not related to words such as "sedentary" or "sedate" (which derive from the Latin verb "sedēre," meaning "to sit"). "Sedulous" people are not the sedate or sedentary sort. They're the hardworking types Scottish author Samuel Smiles must have had in mind when he wrote in his 1859 book Self-Help, "Sedulous attention and painstaking industry always mark the true worker."

From Merriam-Webster Online at

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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.