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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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A Word A Day — prestigious

Good morning, Netizens...

November 21, 2012

Word of the Day

  • prestigious
  • audio pronunciation
  • \preh-STIJ-us\


: having an illustrious name or reputation : esteemed in general opinion

She has become the youngest author ever to receive this prestigious literary award.

"Check the results that year from the Great American Beer Festival, an annual Denver event widely seen as the nation's most prestigious brewing competition." — From an article by Peter Rowe in The San Diego Union-Tribune, October 12, 2012


You may be surprised to learn that "prestigious" had more to do with trickery than with respect when it was first used in 1546. The earliest (now archaic) meaning of the word was "of, relating to, or marked by illusion, conjuring, or trickery." "Prestigious" comes to us from the Latin word "praestigiosis," meaning "full of tricks" or "deceitful." The words "prestige" and "prestigious" are related, of course, though not as directly as you might think; they share a Latin ancestor, but they entered English by different routes. "Prestige," which was borrowed from French in 1656, initially meant "a conjurer's trick," but in the 19th century it developed an extended sense of "blinding or dazzling influence." That change in turn influenced "prestigious," which now means simply "illustrious or esteemed."

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