Sally M (sallymn) wrote in 1word1day,
Sally M

Sunday Word: Recondite

recondite [rek-uhn-dahyt, ri-kon-dahyt ]
1 difficult or impossible for one of ordinary understanding or knowledge to comprehend; deep
2 of, relating to, or dealing with something little known or obscure
3 hidden from sight, concealed


They stared at him as though his words were words of recondite wisdom instead of the simple statement of a plain case. (Raphael Sabatini, Love-At-Arms)

One thing you will note about shopping-center theory is that you could have thought of it yourself, and a course in it will go a long way toward dispelling the notion that business proceeds from mysteries too recondite for you and me. (Joan Didion, 'On the Mall' in The White Album)

Others of Lyly's affectations are rhetorical questions, hosts of allusions to classical history, and literature, and an unfailing succession of similes from all the recondite knowledge that he can command, especially from the fantastic collection of fables which, coming down through the Middle Ages from the Roman writer Pliny, went at that time by the name of natural history and which we have already encountered in the medieval Bestiaries. (Robert Huntington Fletcher, A History of English Literature)

Olson writes lucidly, making even the most recondite details of the science involved clear to a nonscientist. (Michael Upchurch, In deft, distressing 'Apocalypse Factory,' Seattle author details Hanford’s role in the dawn of the nuclear age )


1640s, 'removed or hidden from view,' from Old French recondit, from Latin reconditus, past participle of recondere 'store away, hide, conceal, put back again, put up again, lay up,' from assimilated form of com- 'together' + -dere 'put,' from PIE root dhe- 'to set, put, place.' Meaning 'removed from ordinary understanding, profound' is from 1650s; of writers or sources, 'obscure,' it is recorded from 1817. (Online Etymology Dictionary)

While recondite may be used to describe something difficult to understand, there is nothing recondite about the word's history. It dates to the early 1600s, when it was coined from the synonymous Latin word reconditus. Recondite is one of those underused but useful words that's always a boon to one's vocabulary, but take off the re- and you get something very obscure: condite is an obsolete verb meaning both 'to pickle or preserve' and 'to embalm.' If we add the prefix in- to condite we get incondite, which means 'badly put together,' as in 'incondite prose.' All three words have Latin condere at their root; that verb is translated variously as 'to put or bring together,' 'to put up, store,' and 'to conceal.' (Mirriam-Webster)

Tags: adjective, latin, r, wordsmith: sallymn

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