V&E Words: Diligence

 Definition of Diligence

Diligence is careful or persistent work or effort; a constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; the persistent exertion of body or mind.

In Law, diligence is defined as ‘the degree of care and caution required by the circumstances of a person.’


(Insert Sisyphus Reference Here)


Etymology of Diligence

From late 17th century French diligence a word for ‘ a public stagecoach.’ Diligence was shortened from  carrosse de diligence meaning ‘coach of speed’

In other words, diligence comes from a fast mode of transportation for the common people. How did it become a conceptual word relating to work or effort?

In Old French, the word was borrowed from the Latin root diligentia, or diligent meaning ‘assiduous’.

Assiduous is to show great care and perseverance.

Then from Old French to Middle English diligence took on the meaning of ‘close attention, and/or caution’ which is the root for the now obsolete definition of ‘care or caution’ except in the legal usage of the word.


Diligence is a keyword for our relationship to work and goals. Used as a metaphor for a method of transportation, diligence is a specific method of transit from one place to another. It is specific in that it must be common or shared, and it must be fast and efficient.

What does it mean to treat work or effort like a greyhound bus?  

First, What do all passengers have in common?

  1. Require a ticket to use it (except for the driver)
  2. All travelling to one point on the designated route
  3. A reason for travelling that route
  4. Riding the bus over using a private vehicle, taking a train, plane etc…
  5. Cannot change the course or route of the bus (again the driver COULD)
  6. Can only leave the bus on designated stops.

We have to know where we are going based on where others have gone before,  choose how to get there, have a reason for getting there, buy the ticket, we cannot choose the route because it is predetermined, and we cannot leave unless there is a predetermined stop.

Sound familiar?

Diligence, the careful and constant effort, is this word too limited?

What are we missing?

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