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Sep 7, 2015
This week’s theme
Characters from Don Quixote who became words

This week’s words
quixote
sancho
dulcinea
lothario
rosinante

Don Quixote, first edition cover
First edition of Don Quixote, 1605
Photo: Wikimedia

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

A word coined after someone’s name is called an eponym (as in the word Romeo, after the hero of Shakespeare’s play). Shakespeare has given us many eponyms, as has Charles Dickens.

This week we’ll see five eponyms from a work not originally in English: Don Quixote. It’s a testament to the cross-linguistic appeal of Miguel de Cervantes’s work that multiple characters from it have now become a part of the English Language.

In honor of Cervantes’s birthday this month (Sep 29) and 400 years of publication of the novel this year (vol 1 in 1605, vol 2 in 1615), this week we’ll see words coined after characters in Don Quixote. These words are derived after the leading man, his sidekick, his associates, his ladylove, and even his horse.

Quixote

PRONUNCIATION:
(kee-HO-tee, -tay, KWIK-suht)

MEANING:
noun: Someone who is unrealistic, naive, chivalrous, idealistic, etc. to an absurd degree.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Don Quixote, hero of the eponymous novel by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616). Earliest documented use: 1644. The adjectival form is quixotic.

USAGE:
“Despite what some say, I am not a Quixote, a credulous buffoon rushing and embracing every charlatan.”
Simon Clark; Mammoth Book of Sherlock Holmes Abroad; Running Press; 2015.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it. -Edith Sitwell, poet (7 Sep 1887-1964)

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