September 02, 2014
exorbitant (adjective)
\ig-ZOR-buh-tunt\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: going beyond the limits of what is fair, reasonable, or expected
How do you use it?
The used car was in great shape, but the dealership expected an exorbitant amount for it, so we left the car lot.
Are you a word wiz?

The history of "exorbitant" goes back to Latin "orbita," a word for something that was commonly seen in ancient Rome. What do you think "orbita" refers to?

You're on the right track if you chose answer C. "Exorbitant" comes from a combination of the Latin prefix "ex-," meaning "out" and the word "orbita," meaning "track of a wheel" or "rut." From these two roots the Romans created the verb "exorbitare," meaning "to deviate," or literally, to get out of a rut. In legal cases, the Romans used "exhorbitans" to mean "not within the scope of the law." This legal meaning was the earliest meaning of "exorbitant" in English. Since something that was exorbitant was outside of the norm, "exorbitant" eventually came to mean "beyond the limits of what is fair, reasonable, or expected."
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