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A.Word.A.Day--penelope

Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

This week's theme: eponyms.

penelope (puh-NEL-uh-pee) 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. Here's a painting of Penelope unraveling her web.]

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

-Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)

"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.

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

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