Saturday, May 21, 2011

Assiduous, Sedulous, and Obdurate


The word assiduous came up during last Tuesday’s program. The word means “constant in application to the business at hand, persevering, sedulous, unwearyingly diligent.” It comes from the Latin assiduus. In turn, that came from the verb assidēre, to sit nearby. As for shades of meaning, assiduous attention to a matter may be temporarily intense, but it’s not necessarily permanent.
The OED definition above included the word sedulous. Sedulous means “diligent, active, constant in application to the matter in hand; assiduous, persistent.” It seems to have come from the Latin word sēdulo—sincerely and honestly. A sedulous person is persistent by habit; it is a constant state. A sedulous scholar, for instance, makes persistent study a life-long pursuit.
A connected word is obdurate: “hardened in wickedness, or persistently resistant to moral influence.” It comes from the Latin obdūrāre, "to be persistent, to endure, to harden the heart against God." While assiduous and sedulous have positive connotations, obdurate is definitely negative.

NOTE: Words to the Wise received a favorable review in Andrea McDougal’s Word Nerds Rejoice: Top 25 Blogs For Editing Geeks.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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