An impediment is something that impedes you: something that gets in your way, makes you stumble, or slows you down.
So, impedimenta are all the things you're carrying. More loosely, impedimenta can also be things or situations that slow you down or make it hard for you to move forward.
im ped im ENT uh
Part of speech:
Usually a plural noun ("the impedimenta," "these impedimenta," "our impedimenta," etc.)
The singular noun is "impedimentum," but you won't see it used--it's Latin, and I don't think it's crossed over into regular English use.
If you need an adjective, you've got "impedimental" and "impedimentary," but just pick "impeding" if it'll work.
How to use it:
To use this word literally, talk about the impedimenta of a marching army, the impedimenta of a snow skier, the impedimenta of airline passengers, the impedimenta of a high school freshman on the first day of class, and so on.
To use it figuratively, refer to anything that clutters up your mind or stops you from moving forward in life as impedimenta: it could be ideas, memories, worries, destructive or self-handicapping habits, teachings that you now reject, etc.
And, either literally or figuratively, you might talk about gathering or packing up your impedimenta, hauling your impedimenta around, feeling burdened by your impedimenta, casting off or jettisoning your impedimenta, travelling or progressing free of any impedimenta, and so on.
Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried will really haunt you as he lists the physical and mental impedimenta of soldiers: from things like "wristwatches, dog tags, mosquito repellent" to "the weight of memory," "what others could no longer bear," and "each other."
And then there's Steve Martin and all his hilarious impedimenta as he walks out the door in The Jerk. This ash tray. This paddle game. This chair. This magazine.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "impedimenta" means when you can explain it without saying "stuff" or "burdens."
Think of a situation you're in sometimes when it's best to carry nothing, or almost nothing, and fill in the blanks: "When you _____, there's no room for _____, _____, or other impedimenta."
Example: "When you travel with a toddler, there's no room in your carry-on for paperback novels, a laptop for surfing, or other grown-up impedimenta. It's just diapers, sippy cups, and toys, and it all works out because amusing the toddler IS your entertainment."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month, we're sampling questions from Orijinz, an awesome series of games about the origins of words, phrases, and quotes. Click here if you want to check them out. They're compact--perfect for stockings. Just saying. :) Try a question here each day this month, and see the right answer the next day. Have fun!
"Guess the word!
Origin: Literally means 'infested with lice.' Developed its figurative meaning in the 20th century.
Definition: Remarkably bad or of poor quality."
"The word is: Lousy."
"Guess the phrase!
Origin: Hallucinations from smoking opium led to this phrase, which originated in the late 1800s.
Definition: A goal, hope, or plan so far-fetched that it is extremely unlikely to be realized."
A Point Well Made:
Bertrand Russell: “No nation was ever so virtuous as each believes itself, and none was ever so wicked as each believes the other.”
1. The opposite of IMPEDIMENTA is
A. THAT WHICH HEALS
B. THAT WHICH EXPOSES
C. THAT WHICH FACILITATES
2. Part of becoming an adult is learning to deal with _____ impedimenta.
Answers are below.
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Today we're checking out "impedimenta," a word that's instantly understood (since most of your listeners will know "impede" or "impediment") and yet it's an unusual word, one that adds a little flair as you express your idea.