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A.Word.A.Day--doyenne

Pronunciation RealAudio

doyenne (doi-EN) noun

A woman who is the eldest or senior member of a group or profession.

[From Late Latin decanus (chief of ten), via Old French deien and Middle French doyenne. Her male counterpart is a doyen.]

Another word derived from decanus is dean, which originally referred to a chief of ten men, then leader of ten monks and, finally, to the administrative head of a cathedral or college. A few other non-obvious ten-based words are decussate, intersected or crossed to form an X; dicker, probably from Latin decuria, parcel of ten, with reference to the bundle of ten animal hides Caesar's legions used as a unit of trade; decimate; decibel; and the names of currencies used in various countries, including the qindarka (Albania), stotinka (Bulgaria), and dinar (various Eastern European and Mid-Eastern countries).

"The music of Girija Devi, the doyenne of the Banaras gharana, irradiates soul." Pia Ganguly; A Voice of the Soul; India Currents (San Jose, California); Mar 31, 1994.

"The Philadelphia Flower Show will host the international debut of the bud known as geranium phaeum `Samobar,' which has come to be viewed as a symbol of courage and perseverance since being discovered by British plant doyenne and gardening author Elizabeth Strangman." Noni Bookbinder; U.S. Flower Show Puts Yugoslav Geranium in Spotlight; The Toronto Star (Canada); Mar 5, 2000.

This week's theme: words based on numbers by guest wordsmith Stewart Edelstein.

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