Word of the Day: Perquisite

Do you ever discover a word you’ve only heard, or read, in a particular form is actually a shortened version of a longer word? “Pram” has replaced “perambulator” for example, and a “brassiere” is almost always referred to as a “bra”.

I was playing a lovely online game at Sporcle recently that gave clues as the short forms of words and with contextual clues where necessary. At first I was merrily typing the full word answers in. Some seemed obvious, such as “vet (military)” being veteran, while a few took a moment’s thought. One, however I could not answer.

The clue was “perk”. I knew the word, and that it often came in the form as “a company car is a perk of the job”. But until then I had no idea it was a short form of a longer word. The answer was perquisite.

The online etymology dictionary – a wonderful online reference tool – describes perquisite as dating from the mid-15th century, meaning “property acquired other than by inheritance”, with further details here. The short form, perk, dates from 1869. The alternate “perk” a short form of “percolate” is more recent, dating from 1934.

So I learnt something, which is always rewarding, and it was via playing a game. A perk of the entertainment if you will.