Word of the Day

Saturday, August 14, 2004

countervail

\kown-tur-VAYL\ , transitive verb;
1.
To act against with equal force, power, or effect; to counteract.
2.
To compensate for; to offset; to furnish or serve as an equivalent to.
intransitive verb:
1.
To exert force against an opposing, often bad, influence or power.
Quotes:
In spite of its keel's weight, and even without the countervailing underwater resistance of its mast, Dubois's boat seemed comfortably stable upside down.
-- Derek Lundy, Godforsaken Sea
The failure also tended to countervail his undoubted gifts as an international negotiator and his achievements as Foreign Secretary.
-- Alden Whitman, "Career Built on Style and Dash Ended with Invasion of Egypt", New York Times, January 15, 1977
Until the middle of the 1920s Hook's commitment to revolutionary action and passion for philosophy acted as countervailing forces and ambitions, pulling him first one way, then the other.
-- Christopher Phelps, Young Sidney Hook
Origin:
Countervail derives from Old French contrevaloir, from contre-, "counter-" (from Latin contra, "against") + valoir, "to be worth" (from Latin valere, "to be strong, to avail").
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