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A.Word.A.Day--mystagogue

Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

Sometimes when I'm waiting in a line at a supermarket or at the post office, I wonder about the people around me. The one in motorcycle gear with chains jangling from his pocket, I wonder if he is really a scaredy-cat at home.

The stooping man at the head of the line... what he might be doing after he's done here -- going back to work or returning home to tend to his pet caterpillars? How about the woman who seems to be in a hurry: would she be picking up her kids from school after this or going around netting initiates for her multi-level-marketing cult?

Who knows. But it's fun to guess, and to think words that would fit the best if you had to choose a word for them. This week we'll feature five words to describe people.

mystagogue (MIS-tuh-gog) noun

One who teaches mystical doctrines or one who inititates others into a mystery cult.

[From Latin mystagogus, from Greek mystagogos, from mystes (an initiate) + agogos (leader).]

"Part mystagogue, part monster, Gauguin bragged about his savageries, his insults and his lusts. Yet he saw himself as holy."
Paul Richard; Gauguin's Fantasy Island; Washington Post; Nov 29, 1996.

X-Bonus

Genius is eternal patience. -Michelangelo Buonarroti, sculptor, painter, architect, and poet (1475-1564)

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