Good morning! I’m here with the last week of words for January – this month has flown by! This week Wordsmith has selected five words that come from Roman and Greek mythologies that are now part of the English language. Have a great week.

autolycan (o-TOL-uh-kuhn)

adjective: characterized by thievery or trickery

Etymology
From Autolycus, the son of Hermes and Chione in Greek mythology, who was skilled in theft and trickery. He was able to make himself (or things he touched) invisible, which greatly helped him in his trade. Shakespeare named a con artist after Autolycus in A Winter’s Tale. Earliest documented use: 1890

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“In a disarming note at the beginning of the book, Adams offers an apology for his autolycan procedures.”
Times Literary Supplement; Jun 5, 1981.

“His art was Autolycan, snapping-up, catching the mean minnows of the commonplace when they were off their guard.”
Anthony Burgess; Tremor of Intent; W.W. Norton; 1966.


herculean (hur-kyuh-LEE-uhn, hur-KYOO-lee-)

adjective: 1. requiring extraordinary strength or effort
2. having great strength or size

Etymology
From Hercules, the son of Zeus and Alcmene in Greek mythology. Hercules performed many feats requiring extraordinary strength and effort, such as cleaning the Augean stables. Earliest documented use: 1594

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“It would take a herculean performance for someone to wrest the world sprint title away from Christine Nesbitt.”
Rita Mingo; Dutchman Has Race of His Life; The Calgary Herald (Canada); Jan 30, 2012


titan (TYT-n)

noun: a person, organization, or thing of great strength, size, or achievement

Etymology
From Titan, any of a family of giant gods in Greek mythology who were overthrown by Zeus and company. Atlas was a titan. Earliest documented use: 1412

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“But investors haven’t exactly rewarded the media titan: Disney’s stock has tumbled more than six percent since that premiere.”
Drew Harwell; Has the Force Deserted Disney?; The Argus (Cape Town, South Africa); Jan 8, 2016.


siren song (SYR-uhn song)

noun: an enticing appeal that ultimately leads to disaster

Etymology
From Siren, one of a group of sea nymphs, whose enchanting singing lured sailors to shipwreck on the rocks around their island. Also see femme fatale. Earliest documented use: 1568

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“We must reaffirm our commitment to the principles of open society and resist the siren song of the likes of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, however hard that may be.”
George Soros; The Terrorists and Demagogues Want Us to Be Scared. We Mustn’t Give in; The Guardian (London, UK); Dec 28, 2015.


bacchant (buh-KANT, -KAHNT, BAK-uhnt)

noun: a boisterous reveler

Etymology
From Bacchus, the god of wine in Roman mythology. His Greek equivalent is Dionysus who gave us the word dionysian. Earliest documented use:1699

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“I did not, as a young bacchant in the ‘60s and ‘70s, absent myself from the garden of herbal and pharmacological delights — far from it — so I found myself in an odd position, that is, lecturing a parent about drugs.”
Christopher Buckley; Mum and Pup And Me; The New York Times Magazine; Apr 26, 2009.

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