Emolument vs emollient

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Emolument and emollient are two words that are very close in spelling and pronunciation, but have very different meanings. We will examine the difference between the definitions of emolument and emollient, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

An emolument is the compensation received for work performed through employment or holding an office. An emolument may also describe an advantage one has by holding a particular position of employment or title of office. The plural form is emoluments. The United States Constitution prohibits office holders from accepting gifts over a certain dollar value, referred to in Article I, Section 9, Clause 8, which is known as the Emolument Clause. The Dutch were the first to outlaw the receiving of emoluments while in office, during the mid-1600s. The word emolument is borrowed from the Old French, and originally derived from the Latin word emolumentum which means benefit or advantage. Interestingly, the word emolument was originally used in the English language to mean a payment to a miller in exchange for grinding corn. Today, even many native speakers of the English language are unaware of the definition of the word emolument.

An emollient is a salve that soothes and softens the skin. The word emollient is used as a noun and also as an adjective, sometimes in a figurative sense to describe something that is calming in a volatile situation. The word emollient is also borrowed from the French, though originally derived from the Latin word emollientem which means to make soft.


Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that because President Trump “has a financial interest in vast business holdings around the world that engage in dealings with foreign governments and receive benefits from those governments,” he “has accepted, or necessarily will accept, ‘Emolument[s]’ from ‘foreign State[s]’” in violation of the Constitution. (The Washington Post)

Teaming up with smoking cessation service Quit 51 and Public Health England, Lincolnshire Fire and Resuce is trying to build a picture of what residents know about paraffin-based emollient creams – which include brands such as E45 and Cetraben – and how they use them, so they can design an awareness campaign to highlight the dangers of smoking around these creams. (The Spalding Guardian)