Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Another word from the Greek

It's Merriam-Webster's word of the day:

symposium \sim-POH-zee-um\ noun
*1 : a social gathering at which there is free interchange of ideas
2 a : a formal meeting at which several specialists deliver short addresses on a topic or on related topics b : a collection of opinions on a subject; especially : one published by a periodical
3 : discussion

Example sentence: The symposium gave Eduardo and other writers the chance to listen to and share new ideas about literature.

Did you know? It was drinking more than thinking that drew people to the original symposia and that gave us the word "symposium." The ancient Greeks would often follow a banquet with a drinking party they called a "symposion." That name came from "sympinein," a verb that combines "pinein," meaning "to drink," with the prefix "syn-," meaning "together." Originally, English speakers only used "symposium" to refer to such an ancient Greek party, but in the 18th century British gentlemen's clubs started using the word for gatherings in which intellectual conversation was fueled by drinking. By the 19th century, "symposium" had gained the more sober sense we know today, describing meetings in which the focus is more on the exchange of ideas and less on imbibing.

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.
I can remember as a (naïve) college freshman being baffled by the drinking in Plato's Symposium. This was philosophy? Huh?
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

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