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Sep 28, 2020
This week’s theme
Words originating in rivers

This week’s words
Pactolian
Jedburgh justice
derwenter
palouser
scamander

pactolian
Midas Washing at the Source of the Pactolus
Art: Bartolomeo Manfredi, c. 1617-19

Previous week’s theme
Shirts & pants
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Rivers were the lifeblood of early human settlements and it’s not surprising that we have been getting inspiration from them ever since.

Bertrand Russell once said, “An individual human existence should be like a river: small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being.”

Civilization started along rivers. Rivers are also derivers* of this week’s words. The five words we feature are based on the names of rivers around the world. We’ll start in Turkey, take a scamandering path through Scotland, Australia, the US, and end up back in Turkey.

*To derive is to, literally, flow from; from Latin de- (from) + rivus (stream). Rivus also gave us rival (literally, one who uses the same stream), but not river, which is from Latin ripa (bank, shore).

Pactolian

PRONUNCIATION:
(pak-TOH-lee-uhn)

MEANING:
adjective: Golden; lavish.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Pactolus (now called Sart Çayı), a river in ancient Lydia (in modern Turkey), known for its golden sands. Earliest documented use: 1586.

NOTES:
According to the legend, King Midas bathed in the river Pactolus to get rid of his golden touch, really a golden curse. Midas’s story has given us such terms as Midas touch and Midas-eared. It was this golden sand that supposedly made Croesus rich.

USAGE:
“Governmental support of science was not yet Pactolian, but the well-connected Pasteur never had to stop research for lack of funds.”
H.W. Paul; Science, Vine, and Wine in Modern France; Cambridge University Press; 1996.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
There is always more goodness in the world than there appears to be, because goodness is of its very nature modest and retiring. -Evelyn Beatrice Hall, biographer (28 Sep 1868-1956)

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