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October 11, 2011

Word of the Day

  • Cockaigne
  • audio pronunciation
  • \kah-KAYN\
  • DEFINITION

noun

: an imaginary land of great luxury and ease
  • EXAMPLES

Located on a secluded white sandy beach, the resort -- with its many amenities, including a first-class luxury spa -- is like a utopian Cockaigne.

"[Simon Patten's] particular genius was in recognizing capitalism's potential to realize something like a modern Cockaigne, the mythical land of plenty that beguiled the suffering masses in the Middle Ages." -- From Daniel Akst's 2011 book We Have Met the Enemy: Self-Control in an Age of Excess

  • DID YOU KNOW?

The term "Cockaigne" comes from the Middle French phrase "pais de cocaigne," which literally means "the land of plenty." The word was first popularized in a 13th-century French poem that is known in English as "The Land of Cockaigne." According to an early English translation of the work, in Cockaigne "the houses were made of barley sugar cakes, the streets were paved with pastry, and the shops supplied goods for nothing." (It's this original Cockaigne that is referenced in our second example above.) Some have theorized that "cocaigne" derives from an earlier word related to "cake" or "cook," but its early history remains obscure.

Test Your Vocabulary: What is the meaning of "Ruritanian"? The answer is ...

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