Definition of prothalamion
: a song in celebration of a marriage
prothalamion was our Word of the Day on 05/21/2007. Hear the podcast!
Did You Know?
In 1595, the newly-wed Edmund Spenser wrote a poem to his young bride. He gave this poem the title Epithalamion, borrowing a Greek word for a song or poem in honor of a bride and bridegroom. "Epithalamion," which eventually became established as an English word, can be traced to Greek words that mean "upon the bridal chamber." A year later, Spencer was inspired to write another nuptial poem - this time in celebration of the marriages of the Earl of Worcester's two daughters. But since the ceremonies had not yet taken place, he did not want to call it an epithalamion. After some reflection, Spencer decided to separate "epi-" from "thalamion" and wed the latter with "pro-" ("before"), inventing a word that would become established in the language with the meaning "a song in celebration of a marriage."
Origin and Etymology of prothalamion
New Latin, from Greek pro- + -thalamion (as in epithalamion)
First Known Use: 1597
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