Gratuitous – the devolution of a good word

From Merriam Webster’s “Word of Day

Definition (adjective)
1 : done or provided without recompense : free
2 : not called for by the circumstances : unwarranted

Like gratitude, grace, and congratulate, gratuitous is a descendant of the Latin word gratus, which means “pleasing” or “grateful.” When gratuitous was first used in the middle of the 17th century, it meant “free” or “given without return benefit or compensation.” The extended meaning “done without good reason” or “unwarranted” came about just a few decades later, perhaps from the belief held by some people who one should not give something without getting something in return.

What a sad evolution of a good word.  Although it is interesting that God’s grace is provided without recompense, freely given – but is totally called for by the circumstances of human life.

p.s. I wanted to add a graphic/picture…. but, let’s just say the second definition is the predominant image…. and most of the picture are indeed unwarranted.  Alas…

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4 thoughts on “Gratuitous – the devolution of a good word

  1. …keeping in step with the “negative connotation of the evolved second meaning” is the modern day mindset to question the “motives” of individuals doing kind deeds. As if someone must want something in return for a compassionate act. Our nature can be so judgmental of other’s actions, which can take the joy out of giving.

  2. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I found out recently how wonderful it was to give something to someone anonimously. It was a beautiful feeling really . . . like love being given freely without any expectations! I am very grateful that I was able to help someone else!

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