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Oct 10, 2022
This week’s theme
Eponyms

This week’s words
Copernican
ritzy
bacchanalize
Overton window
Barmecide

Copernicus
Nicolaus Copernicus Monument, 1853, in his hometown Torun, Poland

Previous week’s theme
Words that have changed
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Benedict Arnold can retire now. He has served the English language for more than 200 years by lending his name as a synonym for a traitor. Now a new guy seems ready to take over. And he deserves the (dis)honor -- it’s not every day that someone steals nuclear secrets and other top secrets and passes them on.

A word coined after a person is known as an eponym, from Greek epo- (upon) + -nym (name). The English language is full of them but it’s not easy getting your name in the dictionary.

If you have the ambition to have your name immortalized in the English language, you have to do something extraordinarily good or horrendously bad. We recommend going the extraordinarily good route -- it’s less crowded there.

We have featured eponyms many times in the past and this week we’ll see another five words coined after people real and fictional.

Copernican

PRONUNCIATION:
(koh/kuh-PUHR-ni-kuhn)

MEANING:
adjective:
1. Very important; radically different; paradigm shifting.
2. Relating to Copernicus or his theory that the earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun.

ETYMOLOGY:
After the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) whose heliocentric views were considered revolutionary in a world that believed in the geocentric model. Earliest documented use: 1667.

USAGE:
“My fervent hope is for a Copernican shift: from a Trumpian, money-centered world to a human-centered world.”
Peter A. Bakke; Concerning Trump; AuthorHouse; 2020.

“This emerging picture of sentience, of rich inner lives, among surprisingly varied nonhuman species represents something of a Copernican revolution in how we view other beings on our planet.”
Yudhijit Bhattacharjee; What Are Animals Thinking? They Feel Empathy, Grieve, Seek Joy Just Like Us; National Geographic; Oct 2022.

“In childhood, most people don’t hold the Copernican view, but instead think as if the heavens were in motion around them. ... In the world at large, people who are able to free themselves from this self-centered way of thinking are truly uncommon.”
Genzaburo Yoshino (Translator: Bruno Navasky); How Do You Live?; Algonquin; 2021.

See more usage examples of Copernican in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life. -R.K. Narayan, novelist (10 Oct 1906-2001)

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