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Mar 30, 2015
This week’s theme
Words relating to the names of planets

This week’s words
saturnine

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

The moon. Is it a planet? Is it a star? Is it a ...?

Television hosts at QVC, a shopping channel, recently debated the status of the moon. After this, you’d think QVC would see the opportunity and hawk a book about the basics of the solar system.

Well, if you slept through elementary school while dreaming of going on television to persuade people to buy more stuff they don’t need, help is at hand. This week we’ll feature five words relating to the names of planets in our solar system. Ultimately, most of these words are coined after Roman gods who also gave their names to the planets in our solar system.

There are many words derived from the word moon in the English language: moony, lunatic, lunula (a crescent shaped area at the base of a nail), etc. You’ll notice that we are not featuring them in A.Word.A.Day this week. That’s because, as Google can tell us, a moon is a natural satellite, from Latin satelles (attendant, follower, or hanger-on).

saturnine

PRONUNCIATION:
(SAT-uhr-nyn)

MEANING:
adjective
1. Sluggish.
2. Gloomy.
3. Cold.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin Saturninus (of Saturn). From the ancient belief in astrology that those born under the planet Saturn’s supposed influence had its characteristics. Since Saturn was the farthest known planet at the time, it was believed to be the slowest and coldest. The planet received its name after the Roman god of agriculture. Earliest documented use: 1433.

USAGE:
“This saturnine assessment of the world’s economic predicament has been whispered about in worried tones for months now in the world of high finance.”
Felix Martin; Real Money; New Statesman (London, UK); Oct 17, 2014.

See more usage examples of saturnine in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul, and yet no one ever comes to sit by it. -Vincent van Gogh, painter (30 Mar 1853-1890)

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