Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


A.Word.A.Day

About | Media | Search | Contact  


Home

Today's Word

Yesterday's Word

Archives

FAQ


Apr 7, 2009
This week's theme
People who have more than one word coined after them

This week's words
ciceronian
maudlin
hermetic
Cadmean victory
pickwickian

Mary Magdalene by Titian
Mary Magdalene by Titian

Discuss
Feedback
RSS/XML
A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

maudlin

PRONUNCIATION:
(MAWD-lin)

MEANING:
adjective: Overly sentimental.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Mary Magdalene, a Biblical character who was a follower of Jesus. In medieval art she was depicted as a penitent weeping for her sins (she washed the feet of Jesus with her tears) and her name became synonymous with tearful sentimentality.
The name Magdalene means "of Magdala" in Greek and is derived after a town on the Sea of Galilee. The name Magdala, in turn, means tower in Aramaic. So here we have a word coined after a person, who was named after a place, which was named after a thing.
In an allusion to her earlier life, Mary Magdalene's name has sprouted another eponym, magdalene, meaning a reformed prostitute.

USAGE:
"In this maudlin melodrama, all that was missing were the violins."
Jeannette Layne-Clark; Minister on Stage; Daily Nation (Barbados); Mar 20, 2005.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
A fixed idea is like the iron rod which sculptors put in their statues. It impales and sustains. -Hippolyte Taine, critic and historian (1828-1893)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere

Donate

Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2018 Wordsmith