Did you ever notice that the word "pundit" is only one letter off of "Pandit?"
If Vikram Pandit has the Page-a-Day "365 Words New Words a Year" calendar on his desk at the chief executive offices of Citigroup Inc., he'll be excited to see the etymology of the word of the day for Friday, Feb. 3.
Though it's hard to fathom during an election year, the word "pundit" didn't always have a jaded, demeaning connotation. "The original pundits were highly respected teachers and leaders in India," the calendar folks write. "Their title was taken from the Hindi word 'pandit,' a term of respect for a wise person that derives from the Sanskrit 'pandit,' meaning 'learned.'"
Who knew? The Citigroup chief should bring this up to break an impasse at the next executive showdown, or to reassure the directors at a tense board meeting.
His detractors, however, could point out that times change. Pundit, like a lot of words, has been debased. Now, it "is often used with a hint of sarcasm to refer to informed opinion makers (such as political commentators, financial analysts, and newspaper columnists) who boldly share their views (sometimes at great length) on just about any subject that lies within their areas of expertise."