Is the Word Executrix Archaic?

Executrix notice

Before Aunt Marian could join the WACs, she needed to tie up all the loose ends in Pennsylvania. After her father’s death she was no longer his caregiver—but she still had another responsibility. She was the executrix of his estate.

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, an executrix is “a woman who is an executor.” Is executrix an archaic word?

We no longer have firemen or stewardesses–are there still executrices? (Did I spell that right? It looks odd, but I think this is the plural of executrix).

I’m pleasantly surprised that Aunt Marian was the executrix.  She had 8 living brothers and sisters when her father died.

Aunt Marian was the middle child, and I think that she had the least formal education of any of her siblings. I believe that all of the others were high school graduates–and that many of them also attended post-secondary schools. In spite of her low educational attainment,  Aunt Marian must have had a solid skill set that her father recognized when he identified her as his executrix.

I’m a little foggy on why Aunt Marian’s father’s final address was listed as Antes Fort (Lycoming County), Pennsylvania since his farm was farther east in the county in the Montgomery area. However, one of Aunt Marian’s sisters (Martha)  lived at Antes Fort and maybe that was the official residence of Aunt Marian and her father when he died. . . . sign. . .there are so many mysteries that need to be researched.

Martha (She would have been 15 or 20 years older than the girl in the photo when Aunt Marian lived with her)
Martha (She would have been 15 or 20 years older than the girl in the photo when Aunt Marian lived with her)

24 thoughts on “Is the Word Executrix Archaic?”

  1. Executrix still is used from time to time. It made me curious how many other words have that suffix. I remember the French comic, “Asterix,” which I see now has an English language site. The only other word I can think of that’s in common use is dominatrix. I suppose we can thank “Fifty Shades of Gray” for that.

    It is interesting that your Aunt Marian was offered, and accepted, that responsibility.It’s a bit of proof of what we were talking about in a previous post: that being educated and capable is what counts, more than a diploma.

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  2. I have a hunch your Aunt Marian was the most trusted member of the family and that’s why she was given such an awesome responsibility as “executrix.” Her father knew she would do the right things.

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  3. Having worked in a law office for a few years I know that they still use words and phrases that are very old. I found at times they did lend a sense of beauty to the language used in legal matters.

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    1. Interesting thought. . . I tend to think that legal documents are difficult to read and understand. I need to look at them through a different lens and look for the beauty.

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  4. I’ve come across a lot of older words lately. Even put them on my author facebook page from time to time to see if any one knows the definition. Usually not 😉 Loved this picture. Hope you can frame some of them! ~Elle

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    1. I think you are right that it was typically a role assigned to the oldest son. It’s amazing how just a few words in a public notice that appeared on a classified page of a newspaper 70 years ago provides possible clues about the characteristics of several individuals.

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  5. In modern times (meaning what I hear from my patients today), it is not unusual for a woman to do it. Is it the compassion? The multitasking ability? The caregiver role? It is more likely a combination of all of these.
    A funny thing about words with -ix on the end. I have often called my self the “documentrix” amongst my friends because I document our lives in photo and journal. You, too, then are a documentrix 🙂

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  6. Now that I have executed several wills, I can tell you that the term executrix is still alive and well. I think it will hang on, because it’s just not an area of interest for most feminist activists.

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    1. There sure aren’t many words that end in the “ix” suffix in the English language. . . though as I typed this sentence a realized that the word suffix itself ends in “ix”. 🙂

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  7. Seems your Aunt was extraordinary in a number of ways so why not be the executrix in a male dominated world as well? I haven’t heard this word in common usage for years – executor is used generally for male or female these days. What a great photo of her in uniform – she looks so natural.

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    1. I’ve had similar thoughts about how male-dominated the times generally were back then–and how it’s amazing that Aunt Marian somehow ended up with the executor role.

      I think that she looks proud of herself and what she’s accomplished in the photo with the uniform.

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