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Dec 5, 2011
This week's theme
Words having origins in Iraq

This week's words
baldachin
tabby
babylon
muslin
babel
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

The US military pulls out of Iraq this month. And that marks the beginning of the end of a more than eight-year-long misadventure that resulted in hundreds of thousands dead, millions of displaced/refugees, trillions of dollars down the drain, and both countries -- the attacker and the attacked -- damaged.

The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.

What a dreary topic this is. What do we have to show for all that? Nothing, except perhaps a little better knowledge of the geography of the region. To add to that, this week we bring five words that have their origins in Iraq.

baldachin

PRONUNCIATION:
(BAL-duh-kin, BOL-)
Also, baldacchino, baldachino (bal-duh-KEE-noh)

MEANING:
noun:
1. A rich embroidered fabric of silk and gold.
2. A canopy.

ETYMOLOGY:
English baldachin is derived from Italian baldacchino which is from Baldacco, the Italian name for Baghdad. The city was once known for this fabric and earlier canopies were made of it. Earliest documented use: 1598.

USAGE:
"A rabbi married the couple a few weeks later, under a baldachin made of four brooms and an old blanket."
Henryk M. Broder; Holocaust Survivor Becomes YouTube Star; Der Spiegel (Germany); Aug 12, 2010.

See more usage examples of baldachin in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
It is my belief that the writer, the free-lance author, should be and must be a critic of the society in which he lives. It is easy enough, and always profitable, to rail away at national enemies beyond the sea, at foreign powers beyond our borders who question the prevailing order. But the moral duty of the free writer is to begin his work at home; to be a critic of his own community, his own country, his own culture. If the writer is unwilling to fill this part, then the writer should abandon pretense and find another line of work: become a shoe repairman, a brain surgeon, a janitor, a cowboy, a nuclear physicist, a bus driver. -Edward Abbey, naturalist and author (1927-1989)

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