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Apr 21, 2003
This week's theme
Toponyms (words derived from place names)

This week's words
Star Chamber
Bronx cheer

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"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure-dome decree," these opening lines of Coleridge's opium-induced poem brought the word Xanadu to common currency in the English language. Xanadu (modern spelling Shang-tu) was the site of the summer home of Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, and founder of the Mongol dynasty in China. Marco Polo's travels to the East and his lofty accounts of Kublai Khan's kingdom forever marked Xanadu as a place of exotic luxury and magnificence. During the rest of this week we'll see more toponyms, words based on place names.


(ZAN-uh-doo, -dyoo) Pronunciation

noun: An idyllic, exotic place of great luxury.

[After Xanadu, a place in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem titled Kubla Khan.]

"For many New Yorkers concerned about the use of public space, there is a more important question. Where's the sense in turning the magnificent courthouse into a Xanadu for bureaucrats and a few showcase students, with ordinary New Yorkers inevitably kept out by armed guards and signs that scream 'go away'?"
Clyde Haberman; A City Jewel In the Hands Of Mr. Cubicle; The New York Times; Mar 30, 2002.

"Although bachelor Gates is building a 37,000-square-foot Xanadu, he maintains that wealth 'loses all power to motivate once you have enough to be comfortable.'"
Tony Chiu & Nick Gallo; If People Complain; People (New York); Oct 24, 1991.


One can never pay in gratitude; one can only pay "in kind" somewhere else in life. -Anne Morrow Lindbergh, writer (1906-2001)

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