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Jul 22, 2015
This week’s theme
Words related to Pluto and its moons

This week’s words
plutonian
hydra
cerberus
nocturnal
stygian

Hercules and Cerberus
Hercules and Cerberus
Art: Peter Paul Rubens

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Cerberus

PRONUNCIATION:
(SUHR-buhr-uhs)

MEANING:
noun: A powerful, hostile guard.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin, from Greek Kerberos. Earliest documented use: 1386.

NOTES:
Cerberus (also Kerberos) was the three-headed dog that guarded the entrance to Hades, the infernal region in classical mythology. Ancient Greeks and Romans used to put a slice of cake in the hands of their dead to help pacify Cerberus on the way. This custom gave rise to the idiom “to give a sop to Cerberus” meaning to give a bribe to quiet a troublesome person.
Cancerbero (from Spanish can: dog) is one of the Spanish terms for a goalkeeper in fútbol (football). Kerberos is the name given to an authentication protocol for computer networks.

USAGE:
“Some of the composer’s oldest friends grumbled among themselves that they no longer had direct access to him but were constantly running up against this young Cerberus, who answered the phone, read all Stravinsky’s letters, and organized his diary.”
Stephen Walsh; Stravinsky: The Second Exile; Knopf; 2010.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
What's done to children, they will do to society. -Karl A. Menninger, psychiatrist (22 Jul 1893-1990)

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