Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Am I even spelling this one right? Well, we'll see.

Feduciary is the type of word that I can read in a sentence and probably puzzle out some sort of meaning for from context. It might not be the right meaning, but it works well enough for me to go on to the next sentence. There are a lot of words like this, frankly. Usually, like this one, they belong to a world that I don't have a lot of expertise in, and that I don't always feel obligated to get a whole lot clearer on. This word comes from the world of finance--I think--which is usually enough to make me pass right over it in itself.

I think that as I read, I more or less read 'financial' when I come across the word 'feduciary'. I also associate it with banking, or at least the world of financial institutions. It seems to imply a seriousness and authority about fiscal responsibility, which frankly is a bit laughable after all that's gone down in the last few months, and apparently, years. Well, let's see. And I off on the wrong track here?

Well, as some or all of you will already know, I would have lost the spelling bee on that one. Fiduciary, not feduciary. The funny thing is that I might have had a better understanding of the roots of the word if I'd just spelled it right. Because 'fiduciary' is all about trust, and in fact comes from the Latin word for trust fiducia. 'Fid' would have at least led me to relate it to 'fidelity' or 'faithfulness' rather than some vague associaion with words like 'federal' and 'federated'.

But fed- words will have to be another discussion. Fiduciary means more specifically 'of or related to holding something in trust for another'. Or a person can be a fiduciary, which means to be a person bound to act for another's benefit--in fact, a trustee.

So the financial aspect, though not crucial to the word, is not so far off, as one of the things we do most often hold in trust for another is money in some form. But I would say the meaning is at heart much more legal than financial.

I did find another definition of the word that has nothing to do with the legal or the financial, but obviously springs from the same initial concept. Fiduciary can also mean 'of, relating to or being a system of marking in the field of view of an optical instrument that can be used as a reference point or measuring scale.

So in the otherwise confusing field of view, you make some kind of steady mark that you can find your bearings by.

In other words, something you can trust.


  1. Ah yes, the good old fiduciary duty. I feel like I'm back in law school, half paying attention during my professional responsibility class.

  2. Brian, that doesn't sound very responsible of you. I trust you've grown in fiduciary sensibilities since then.

    (Basically just wrote that so I could practice spelling fiduciary correctly.)

  3. This was a new one for me. But in these downturn days, it seems ironical linking TRUST and FINANCIAL together.

  4. Trust and attorney in the same word, let alone the same sentence? It's amazing "fiduciary" still exists...


    No it wasn't very responsible of me, was it? But in my defense, I haven't been disbarred. Yet.

  5. Sucharita and Brian, I'm late replying to your posts, but it does seem a timely word to be talking about, doesn't it? Brian, I think at the moment you lawyers may even be looking pretty good, at least in comparison to bankers and auto manufacturers...

  6. Fiduciary. Fiduciary. Fiduciary. Fiduciary. Fiduciary.

    Just practicing.
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    “Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home”

  7. Yeah, it's a little hard to see that misspelled blog entry every time I look at this post, but I'm leaving it. It will probably help imprint the right spelling on my brain. I hope.

  8. Good for you for not tampering with the historical record.

  9. Oh yeah--that;s kind of the whole point here. Still, it irks me.

  10. Sorry, Ieft out the h in your name by accident.