This week, my friend Carol reminded me of the word “unconscionable"–we were talking politics–and of course my inner Word Nerd picked up on immediately. What a rich word.
My handy-dandy Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines it as “not guided or restrained by conscience; unscrupulous.”
Un- means “not,” of course… my Webster’s has a whole list of undefined “un”words, just a simple list. [My favorite of the bunch, by the way, is “undaughterly.” What a quaint word, however untrue it is of my own daughter!]
Con- means “with, together” (also spelled as com-, col-, or cor- in front of certain letters). That’s another one with a lot of words. Connect (fasten together), compel (to drive together), consanguineous (of the same bloodlines). A musician knows “con brio” means they should play with liveliness.
Sci- means “knowledge, and comes from Latin’s scire, meaning “to know”. The Latins got it from an Indo-European word meaning to cut, separate. We get our word “science” from this Latin root, which is interesting, considering how scientists like to compartmentalize and organize and systematize the things they observe.
With the prefix con-, the word takes on a connotation of knowledge within yourself, which explains the word "conscience" admirably: it is an inner knowledge of right and wrong, isn’t it? So let’s all try to be conscionable today! Let’s be guided by conscience and scrupulous.
WORD NERD CHALLENGE: What English words can you come up with using the base words in unconscionable? (Other than the words I already mentioned, of course, lol)