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A.Word.A.Day--faustian

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Faustian (FOU-stee-uhn) adjective

1. Of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Faust.

2. Sacrificing spiritual values for power, knowledge, or material gain.

3. Characterized by spiritual dissatisfaction or torment.

4. Possessed with a hunger for knowledge or mastery.

[After Faust also Faustus, a magician and alchemist in German legend who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for power and knowledge.]

"Young artists, new galleries and old museums all seem eager to play their part in this Faustian bargain: loads of publicity, rising prices for contemporary art and good crowds for exhibitions in exchange for what a British art critic, William Feaver, calls 'headline art'." Alan Riding, Spurred by Long Lines and Headlines, London Museums and Galleries Shock Anew, The New York Times, Sep 25, 2000.

Eponyms are people who have a word coined after them. Take Amerigo Vespucci, Italian explorer after whom America was named. The word eponym is also used to refer to words coined in this manner. The elementary particle boson, for example, is named after Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose.

This week we travel around the world in our quest for eponyms. Our other stops are Germany, Sweden, Australia, France and England. We pick words coined after good guys, as well as words named after not-so-good ones. We feature words derived from people who were mere figments of someone's imagination and words that have their source in flesh and blood folks. -Anu

X-Bonus

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right. -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)


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