May 09, 2016
incumbent (noun)
\in-KUM-bunt\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: the holder of an office or position
How do you use it?
After the incumbent decided not to seek reelection, several members of the city council announced their candidacy for mayor.
Are you a word wiz?

"Incumbent" can be used as another part of speech besides a noun. Which other part of speech do you think "incumbent" can also function as?

In addition to being a noun, "incumbent" is an adjective with more than one meaning. It can mean "lying or resting on something" (as in "fossils found between incumbent layers of rock") and it can mean "imposed as a duty" (as in "incumbent upon him to return the favor"). "Incumbent" is also used adjectivally to describe an official occupying a specified office, as in "the incumbent mayor." "Incumbent" traces back to the Latin verb "cumbare," which means "to lie down." Other English words from this same root include "recumbent" and the less common "decumbent," both of which mean "lying down."
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