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Apr 30, 2012
This week's theme
Eponyms

This week's words
mentor
nestor
tartar
hector
satyr

Telemachus and Mentor
Telemachus and Mentor
Art: Pablo E. Fabisch, 1699

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Actors act, curators curate, and orators orate. But doctors don't doct*, victors don't vict, and pastors don't past. Such is the English language. And we certainly don't want ancestors to ancest, traitors to trait, or gators to gate.

This week A.Word.A.Day will feature five people, real and fictional, whose names may appear to be derived from a verb form, but aren't. Mentors, for example, don't ment, though that doesn't prevent people from forming nouns such as 'mentee' and verbs like 'to mentor'.

This week's words are eponyms, a word derived from someone's name.

* Doctors don't doct, but a doctor was a teacher in the past, from Latin docere (to teach), which also gave us docent and document (literally, a piece of instruction).

mentor

PRONUNCIATION:
(MEN-tohr, -tuhr)

MEANING:
noun: A wise and trusted adviser or teacher.
verb tr., intr.: To serve as an adviser or teacher.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Mentor, the name of young Telemachus's adviser in Homer's Odyssey. Earliest documented use: 1750.

USAGE:
"Just as mentors come in different shapes and sizes, they fill different roles. Ms. Brooks said the common denominator is that they are good and active listeners willing to offer constructive, but blunt, criticism and, at the same time, share stories about their own failures."
Mark Evans; Age No Barrier; Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada); Mar 30, 2012.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Society is like a lawn, where every roughness is smoothed, every bramble eradicated, and where the eye is delighted by the smiling verdure of a velvet surface; he, however, who would study nature in its wildness and variety, must plunge into the forest, must explore the glen, must stem the torrent, and dare the precipice. -Washington Irving, writer (1783-1859)

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