• Carmen Milligan

Wednesday Word: Inculcate

Updated: Mar 3


[inˈkəlˌkāt, ˈinkəlˌkāt]


  1. instill (an attitude, idea, or habit) by persistent instruction. "the failures of the churches to inculcate a sense of moral responsibility" synonyms: instill · implant · fix · ingrain · infuse · impress · imprint · introduce · engender · produce

  • teach (someone) an attitude, idea, or habit by persistent instruction.


mid 16th century: from Latin inculcat- ‘pressed in’, from the verb inculcare, from in- ‘into’ + calcare ‘to tread’ (from calx, calc- ‘heel’).

I love the origins of these Wednesday Words because they are so very descriptive. I think sometimes that we should still use Latin because it is such a communicative language. I particularly love the idea of "pressed in" when defining this word. "Drill in" is so invasive and harsh. But to use "pressed in" is very thoughtful and gentle. Like pressing flowers to keep them.

However, there was a usage I saw that spoke of college professors inculcating students with their political views. When it is used that way, it would be less inculcating an idea or attitude, but more bordering on brainwashing and propaganda.

It is a great word, and one that you should try to incorporate into your usage. Let me know what you think!

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