Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


A.Word.A.Day

About | Media | Search | Contact  


Home

Today's Word

Subscribe

Archives



Mar 23, 2020
This week’s theme
Terms originating in horses

This week’s words
horse marine
chevalier
unhorse
hippocrene
horse sense

horse marine
Image: insima/Adobe Stock

Previous week’s theme
Reduplicatives
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share
A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Years of horse riding has given us words that now we don’t even realize have connections with horses. A constable is, literally, a count of the stable. Someone named Philip is, literally, a horse lover, from Greek philo- (love) + hippos (horse). There are idioms, such as beating a dead horse (to try to revive interest in something that has lost its relevance) and trojan horse (something or someone placed in order to subvert from within).

As the author Alice Walker once wrote, “The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men.”

Horses have served us for millennia and now it’s time to give them a rest. If you disagree, check out this interview with Ren Hurst, a former horse trainer and the author of Riding on the Power of Others.

Meanwhile, enjoy this week’s five terms having origins in horses.

horse marine

PRONUNCIATION:
(hors muh-REEN)

MEANING:
noun:
1. Something imaginary.
2. Someone out of their element; a misfit.
3. A marine part of a cavalry or a cavalryman doing marine duty.

ETYMOLOGY:
From horse, from Old English hors + marine, from Latin mare (sea). Earliest documented use: 1823.

NOTES:
It sounds ridiculous that a soldier mounted on a horse would be of much use on water and that’s the idea behind the term horse marine. As unbelievable as it sounds, there have been horse marines in practice; there have been some famous horses in the US Marine Corps. Meet Staff Sergeant Reckless.

USAGE:
“Elizabeth: He’s never even kissed me.
Arnold: I’d try telling that to the horse marines if I were you.”
W.S. Maugham; Circle; Heinemann; 1921.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The successful revolutionary is a statesman, the unsuccessful one a criminal. -Erich Fromm, psychoanalyst and author (23 Mar 1900-1980)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere

Donate

Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2020 Wordsmith