Vocab Lab: Kudos

“Kudos to Steve for that great presentation!” This is one of those unusual words that tend to turn up only occasionally in academic situations, but that most native speakers will recognize. What does it mean, though, and where did it come from?

History & Definition

The word itself, kudos, comes from the ancient Greek word κῦδος and originally came into use as part of the English language during the 18th century. Then, it meant “honor” or “glory” and would have been used to praise someone much as it is today.

Usage

Although it may sound plural, kudos is considered an uncountable noun. In the original Greek, the word would have been singular (the –os ending marked singular nouns), and it is only by coincidence that it mimics a plural English noun. Therefore, there is no such thing as a single “kudo” and to use that term would be a mistake.

Instead, kudos can be applied as a way to compliment or congratulate someone on a job well done.

Kudos for that witty statement!
Great job on acing that exam — kudos to you!

Notice there are two structures that have appeared: you can say “kudos for ___” where some achievement goes in the blank, or you can say “kudos to ___” with a person’s name. The meaning is the same, but different prepositions are used.

Practice Time!

Rewrite the following sentences to include the word kudos. You may need to change the preposition to match the structure you create. Check your answers at the end of the page.

  1. Congrats on that promotion at work.
  2. The board gave high praise to Joey for his marketing pitch.
  3. Broadway actors should receive admiration for their success.
  4. You’ve worked so hard — we’re proud of you.
  5. For always being prepared, points to our team leader.

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Answers:

  1. Kudos for that promotion at work.
  2. The board gave kudos to Joey for his marketing pitch.
  3. Broadway actors should receive kudos for their success.
  4. You’ve worked so hard — kudos to you.
  5. For always being prepared, kudos to our team leader.

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