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Today's Word



Jun 24, 2019
This week’s theme
Words originating in horses

This week’s words
horse race

A chariot race in a hippodrome in Puy du Fou, a historical theme park in France
Photo: Midx1004/Wikimedia

Previous week’s theme
People with multiple eponyms coined after them
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with Anu Garg

You may not be into horses, but chances are you still have a horse or two (or at least their cousins) lying around the house. A bidet is, literally, a pony (from French). An easel is, literally, an ass (from Dutch ezel).

Horses have served us for thousands of years, but today you’re more likely to own a four-wheeled 100-horsepower horseless carriage (also known as a car) than a four-legged 1-horsepower version (also known as a horse).

Given their long association with humans, horses continue to lurk around in our language. There’s so much named after horses. If you are called Philip, you are, literally speaking, a horse lover, from Greek philo- (love) + hippos (horse). A hippopotamus is, literally, a river horse, from Greek potamos (river). A walrus is, literally, a horse whale, from Old Norse hrosshvalr (horse whale). Hippocampus, a part of the brain, is named so because its cross-section looks like a sea-horse, from Greek kampos (sea monster).

In each of this week’s words, there is a horse hiding somewhere.



noun: A stadium for horse races, chariot races, horse shows, etc.
verb tr.: To manipulate or prearrange the outcome of a contest.

From Greek hippos (horse) + dromos (running). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ekwo- (horse), which also gave us equestrian and equitant. Earliest documented use: 1549.

Match fixing has been around for as long as humans have been having matches. Today’s word shows it going as far as ancient horse racing.

“The smaller fairs were the backbone of the IMCA [International Motor Contest Association] schedule and these were routinely hippodromed.”
Don Radbruch; Dirt Track Auto Racing, 1919-1941; McFarland; 2004.

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

All men -- whether they go by the name of Americans or Russians or Chinese or British or Malayans or Indians or Africans -- have obligations to one another that transcend their obligations to their sovereign societies. -Norman Cousins, author, editor, journalist, and professor (24 Jun 1915-1990)

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