Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Word Choice Wednesday: Sequester


Merriam-Webster says:
a : to set apart : segregate   b : seclude, withdraw

It also lists a second definition: a : to seize especially by a writ of sequestration b : to place (property) in custody especially in sequestration. And 3: to hold (as a metallic ion) in solution usually by inclusion in an appropriate coordination complex.

I'm calling this a ten cent word due to formality and limited use. The formality probably comes from the fact I usually hear it in a legal context -- sequestering a jury. I'd heard the #3 definition in chemistry classes, so it's also got a scientific formality to it, for me.

More specific than:
Collect, and related terms like gather or store. I get a sense of being put away from sequester, of doors closing. Not permanently, but for a while. Also, a deliberate choosing and orderly arranging of what is sequestered. All of that ties into the chemical sense of the word, too -- specific molecules being chemically bound to other molecules until such time as they are released.

Word relationships:
It's less voluntary than seclude or withdraw. But not as unpleasant as segregate. No religious connotations as found in cloister. All of these words apply primarily to people or places (for secluded) but sequester can refer to items also. With reference to gathering items, sequestering is more organized than simply putting something away or packing it away. And more formal than a colloquial phrase like putting up or putting by (canning/jarring/freezing food for long term storage).

What comes to your mind? Post a sentence using it? (without mentioning juries)


Libby said...

I do like that word. I've only heard it used legally, but I like it.

The Golden Eagle said...

Interesting word!

I think of squirrels--as in, they're "sequestering" nuts. I don't know why. :P

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