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Oct 18, 2010
This week's theme
Eponyms

This week's words
harlequin
stentorian
pharisaical
luddite
simony

Pierrot and Harlequin by Paul Cézanne
Pierrot and Harlequin
Art: Paul Cézanne, 1888

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

John Montagu, Fourth Earl of Sandwich, a British politician in the eighteenth century, was so fond of gambling that he spent the whole day playing, while devouring slices of bread with a filling between them. Little did he know that his name would become eponymous with that food. From sandwich to boycott, we use numerous eponyms (words named after people) in our daily discourse. In this week's AWAD, we'll look at five not so common eponyms, derived from people real and mythical.

harlequin

PRONUNCIATION:
(HAHR-luh-kwin, -kin)

MEANING:
adjective: In varied colors.
noun: A clown.
noun: A stock comic character, masked, and dressed in a diamond-patterned multicolored costume.

ETYMOLOGY:
Via French and Italian, after Herla king, a mythical figure sometimes identified as Woden, an Anglo-Saxon god.

USAGE:
"Long, multicolored armbands and stringy dresses added flashy flair, and diamond-patterned tights resembled what a harlequin might wear."
Jamey Keaten; Galliano Aims For Hippies at Fashion Show; Associated Press (New York); Oct 9, 2004.

"Another designer had her models parading down the catwalk in 'traditional, flounced peasant blouses and full-tiered skirts in brilliant red-and-white gingham, zigzag knit and harlequin patchwork'."
Rona Dougall; Someone Save Us From Frocky Horror Shows; The Scotsman (Edinburgh, Scotland); Sep 28, 2004.

See more usage examples of harlequin in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people. -Abraham Joshua Heschel, theology professor (1907-1972)

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