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Registered: ‎03-09-2010

October 19, 2011 Word of the Day

  • conversant
  • kun-VER-sunt


: having knowledge or experience

The software firm advertised for programmers who are conversant with the latest technologies and languages and who have at least 3 years of job-related experience.

"You will find newfangled Bohemian specialties like duck breast with red-cabbage essence; waiters conversant in all sorts of intricate, beer-geek brewing techniques; and a burly, old-world barkeep who looks like an extra from the set of Game of Thrones." -- From a restaurant review by Adam Platt in New York Magazine, August 22, 2011


The adjectives "conversant" and "conversational" are related; both are descendants of Latin "conversari," meaning "to associate with." The earliest English meaning of "conversant" in the 1300s was simply "having familiar association." One way to associate with others is to have a conversation with them -- in other words, to talk. For a short time in the 19th century "conversant" could mean "relating to or suggesting conversation," but for the most part that meaning stayed with "conversational" while "conversant" went in a different direction. Today, "conversant" is sometimes used, especially in the United States, with the meaning "able to talk in a foreign language," as in "she is conversant in several languages," but it is more often associated with knowledge or familiarity, as in "conversant with the issues."