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anabasis (uh-NAB-uh-sis) noun, plural anabases (uh-NAB-uh-seez)

An expedition or an advance, especially a military one.

[After Greek mercenary expedition led by Cyrus the Younger of Persia across Asia Minor in 401 BCE, described by Xenophon in his historical work Anabasis. From Greek anabainein (to go up), from ana- (up) + bainein (to go). Can you imagine anything in the world that could be common between today's word and diabetes? Both are formed from the same Greek root bainein (to go, pass, stand). The symptom of frequent urination as a result of the disease resulted in it being named diabetes, Greek for siphon. And the word diabetes derived from diabeinein (to straddle, to walk with legs apart), from dia- (across) + our old friend bainein. Another word with the same root is acrobat, from acro- (high) + bat, from bainein.]

"Between mid-November 1864 and April 1865, William Tecumseh Sherman cut his supply lines and -- against standard military orthodoxy and the advice of the president, the secretary of war and General Grant -- set off with an army of over 60,000 Midwesterners into `the bowels of the Confederacy.' `I can make Georgia howl,' he promised his superiors at the outset of the anabasis that shattered the pretensions of the secessionists and ruined the soul of the South."
Victor Davis Hanson, Marching Through Georgia, The New York Times Book Review, Jul 29, 2001.

"From there, the sailors continued their anabasis on foot ..."
John Dunn and Donald Stoker, Blood on the Baltic, Naval History (Annapolis, Maryland), Mar/Apr 1999.

Editor and statesman Josephus Daniels (1862-1948) once described an army as "a body of men assembled to rectify the mistakes of the diplomats." As we enter an uncertain new year, here's hoping that we'll be able to manage with words instead of arms. Whatever betides, we wish you inner peace and a heart that's full of bliss in the coming year.

This week's theme is a topical one: words related to the military.



When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. -John Muir, naturalist, explorer, and writer (1838-1914)

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