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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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A Word A Day — surd

Go0od morning, Netizens...

April 17, 2013

Word of the Day

  • surd
  • audio pronunciation
  • \SERD\


: lacking sense : irrational
: voiceless — used of speech sounds

The artist is known for creating videos in which well-known speeches with surd utterances scattered throughout are recited by everyday people.

"While the grandparents might scratch their heads at the Star Wars references, the actors and perhaps some younger parents likely delighted in [the] manic, jumbled and surd structure of the play." — From a review by Patrick Clement in Kiowa County Signal (Greensburg, Kansas), January 23, 2013


Both "surd" and its more common cousin "absurd" come from the Latin word "surdus," meaning "unhearing, deaf, muffled, or dull." "Absurd" traveled through Middle French before arriving in English in the early 16th century. Its arrival preceded by a few decades the adoption of the noun version of our featured word directly from Latin, which referred to an irrational root, such as √3. By the early 17th century "surd" had gained a more general application as the adjective featured in the example sentences above. In sense 2, the adjective describes speech sounds that are not voiced—for example, the \p\ sound, as opposed to the voiced \b\.

From Merriam-Webster Online at



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