What does perseverate mean?

Word count: 219 words

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

If you increase your vocabulary you’ll not only help your reading, you’ll also make your writing more precise. Here is my word of the week, perseverate.

Do you ever come across a word that you’ve read many times before and suddenly realize you don’t know what it means? “Perseverate” was such a word for me. Its clear, clipped, definitive sound always fooled me into thinking I understood it. Turns out I had no idea!

I finally wrote it down after reading the sentence,

It is always wiser to let her perseverate a little, if time allowed.

The sentence came from the novel This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman. Unfortunately, the context of that thought gave no clues as to the meaning of the word. But if I’d spent a bit more time pondering — in fact, if I’d persevered — I should have been able to figure it out.

Perseverate comes from the Latin verb perseverare, which means to continue steadfastly or to persevere. I know what persevere means, of course, and perseverate comes from exactly the same root! To perseverate means to repeat or reiterate. Now repeat after me…