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Community Comment

A Word A Day — emolument

September 22, 2012

Word of the Day

  • emolument
  • audio pronunciation
  • \ih-MAHL-yuh-munt\


: the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites

James has contributed countless volunteer hours to the organization and continues to refuse any emolument for his work.

“For her first six years Johnson, though serving full-time on the court with the same responsibilities and emoluments as her colleagues, was officially styled an appeal-court judge on permanent assignment upstairs.” — From an article by James Gill in the Times-Picayune (New Orleans), July 11, 2012


“To Sir Thomas Williams Person of the Parish … of Saint Andrew at Baynards Castle in London for his yearly pension 40 shillings … in recompense of certain offerings, oblations, and emoluments unto the said benefice due….” Thus was recorded in “The Wardrobe Accounts of Edward the Fourth,” along with every expense of the realm, the first ever known use of “emolument.” By the year 1480, when that entry was made, Latin “emolumentum” had come to mean simply “profit” or “gain”; it had become removed from its own Latin predecessor, the verb “molere,” meaning “to grind.” The original connection between the noun and this verb was its reference to the profit or gain from grinding another's grain. (The notion of grinding away at our jobs didn't show up in our language until the 1800s.)

From Merriam-Webster Online at

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