Interesting and Unusual Words: “Overzealousness”

By Matt Vicker

“Overzealousness”

Yeah that’s right, ‘overzealousness’. The OED aptly defines it as “the quality of being overzealous; excessive zeal”. Don’t we all just have excessive zeal? I think I like the word because it has several parts. It derives from ‘zeal’, meaning to pursuit or long for someone/something. Then we have ‘zealous’, being the adjective form, the characteristic, if you will. To be ‘overzealous’ is to take that pursuit a bit too far – being a bit excessive. That then brings us back to ‘overzealousness’ which, as we know already is “the quality of being overzealous; excessive zeal”. Ultimately I just wanted to write a post about ‘overzealousness’ because it is really fun to say, with all the sibilance from the ‘s’s. Once you say it aloud once, you won’t stop! Overzealousness; overzealousness everywhere!

The OED entry for ‘overzealousness’: http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/259286?redirectedFrom=overzealousness#eid

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One comment

  1. A nice example of changing word classes through derivation – from a noun to an adjective to an adjective with a slightly different meaning – back to a noun (which now means something totally different)!

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