mid-14c., from Old French diligence “attention, care; haste, speed,” from Latin diligentia “attentiveness, carefulness,” from diligentem (nominative diligens) “attentive, assiduous, careful,” originally prp. of diligere “single out, value highly, esteem, prize, love; aspire to, be content with, appreciate,” originally “to pick out, select,” from dis- “apart” (see dis-) +legere “choose, gather” (see lecture (n.)).
First Known Use: 14th century
If I may quote Dr. Johnson: “What we hope ever to do with ease, we must first learn to do with diligence.”
I have been sadly lacking in diligence lately – distracted by travel, of course, but also rather unmoored since the passing of the full moon. Blank pages seem to inspire bouts of folding laundry or finally touching up those scratched areas on the living room wall. It’s interesting that the word ‘diligence’, at its root, means ‘to love or esteem’ since one is sometimes inclined to assume (with one’s professorial brain) that ‘diligence’ is code for hard-working but perhaps not very bright. As it turns out, assiduousness is not a fault, it is brave and true, inspired by attentiveness and loving care, and prepares the ground for Castiglione’s ‘sprezzatura’ – doing difficult things with ease – but only because one has practiced diligently.
And so I undertake with diligence to confront blank pages with a glad heart, resolved to work slow and lovingly –