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May 15, 2007
This week's theme
Words borrowed from Spanish

This week's words
Alford plea
freudian slip

Penelope Unraveling Her Web  by Joseph Wright
Penelope Unraveling Her Web (1783-1784)
Art: Joseph Wright

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with Anu Garg


(puh-NEL-uh-pee) Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

noun: A faithful wife.

[From Penelope, the wife of Odysseus and mother of Telemachus in Greek mythology. She waited 20 years for her husband's return from the Trojan War (ten years of war, and ten years on his way home). She kept her many suitors at bay by telling them she would marry them when she had finished weaving her web, a shroud for her father-in-law. She wove the web during the day only to unravel it during the night.]

"O.K., so maybe nobody ever accused female chimpanzees of being the virtuous Penelopes of the forest. They've long been known to mate promiscuously, as have their male counterparts; after all, the genus name for chimpanzees, Pan, derives from the Greek god famed for his lechery."
Natalie Angier; Sex and the Female Chimp; The New York Times; May 27, 1997.

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


The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you except yourself. -Rita Mae Brown, writer (1944- )

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