Adj: Having greater influence, power, or importance; predominant.
Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
The thrill of learning a new word regularly punctuated my childhood and teen years. My mum, then a teacher, now a teacher-librarian, fed me a steady diet of books and I devoured them, buzzing with enthusiasm and excitement at every new addition to my vocabulary. In those days, the buzz was frequent. And on slow days, I was known to make up my own.
Now, I receive a new word daily, delivered to my inbox via A Word A Day. But it takes a fairly magical concoction for this somewhat staid approach to vocabulary building -- devoid of the creativity, context, nuance, and adventure of a robust novel -- to make me stop and take notice. Not since “epanorthosis” in 2009 have I felt compelled to bring a word into my daily chat.
So I was surprised when I recently read a business book, of all things, to have “preponderant” thrust into the spotlight. Late one night, as I delved into Fowler’s 40 Lessons Learnt in 40 Years of Business, I sat bolt upright and said aloud, “what a brilliant word” to an empty room.
Taking a look at Google’s Ngram viewer, I can see why it’s taken so long for me to find “preponderant”. After a heavy use between 1836 - 1860, the word then laid low but slowly climbed its way back to reach a crescendo of use in 1945. Since then, preponderant’s use has been in decline -- ironic, really, given its meaning. That’s something I aim to change.