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Feb 19, 2007
This week's theme
Porcine words to mark the Chinese new year

This week's words
pignus
epigamic
pigsney
epigeal
epigone

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

pignus

Happy Chinese New Year! This week begins the year of the pig, according to the Chinese calendar. If you were born in 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959, 1947, 1935, 1923, or 1911, congratulations! This is your year. In Chinese astrology a pig signifies intelligence, honesty, strength, and fortitude.

It's so unfair that in many cultures pigs symbolize all things uncultured. In English we have idioms such as to pig out (to overeat), to be pigheaded (stubborn), to be piggish (greedy or slovenly), to hog (take more than one's share) -- all reflections of our bias. In truth, pigs are the most intelligent animals after primates.

This week we'll celebrate the Chinese New Year with a few porcine words -- words that have little piggies in their spellings.

pignus (PIG-nuhs) noun, plural pignora

Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

1. A pledge.

2. Something held as security for a debt.

[From Latin pignus (pledge).]

"I hear a threat?"
"You hear a pignus of your committal. No more."
Anthony Burgess; A Dead Man in Deptford; Carroll & Graf; 1995.

X-Bonus

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone. -Gladys Bronwyn Stern, writer (1890-1973)

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