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Sep 8, 2020
This week’s theme
Eponyms

This week’s words
Ballardian
Griselda
Homeric
Juno
Pavlovian

Griselda
One of Griselda’s children is taken away from her
Illustration: H.R. Haweis, in Chaucer for Children, 1877

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

griselda

PRONUNCIATION:
(gri-ZEL-duh)

MEANING:
noun: A meek and patient woman.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Griselda, a woman in various medieval tales, who suffers without ever complaining as her husband puts her through various tests. The name Griselda is from Germanic roots meaning “gray battle-maid”. Talk about misnaming your character (see below)! Earliest documented use: 14th century.

NOTES:
Griselda has appeared in many stories over the years, including Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, and was the inspiration for Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. The best-known version of the story is the one told by Giovanni Boccaccio, c. 1350.

In the story, Gualtieri, Marquis of Saluzzo, marries a peasant girl named Griselda. After some time when a daughter is born, Gualtieri decides to test his wife and declares that the newborn is to be killed and sends her away supposedly to be killed. Griselda accepts her husband’s will without ever complaining.

A son is born a few years later and again: lather, rinse, repeat.

For the final test, he leaves her. After a few years he announces he’s remarrying and asks Griselda to come work as a servant in the wedding. She meekly complies.

The woman he’s supposedly marrying is their daughter who is now grown up, all of 11 years old. Seeing Griselda remain steadfast and loyal through all this, he finally declares: It has been a test. Only a test. Congratulations, you passed!

The whole family reunites. Happy ending. Good old times!

USAGE:
“Quite evidently she is not a Griselda, but possessed with a shocking desire to exculpate herself and her friends.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe; Lady Byron Vindicated; Boston, Fields, Osgood, & Co.; 1870.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
If more politicians in this country were thinking about the next generation instead of the next election, it might be better for the United States and the world. -Claude Pepper, senator and representative (8 Sep 1900-1989)

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