Word of the Day : December 11, 2011


noun per-DISH-un


1 : eternal damnation

2 : hell


"The urbane activity with which a man receives money is really marvellous, considering that we so earnestly believe money to be the root of all earthly ills, and that on no account can a monied man enter heaven. Ah! how cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition!" -- From Herman Melville's 1851 novel Moby Dick

"So among my earliest poems were those about a sin-eater -- a functionary at funerals from a former time who, for his daily bread and a small fee, took unto himself the sins of the dead, and then, like the goat of the ancient Jews, escaped to the wilderness laden with the burdens of perdition." -- From an article by Thomas Lynch in Commonweal, August 12, 2011

Did You Know?

"Perdition" began life as a word meaning "utter destruction"; that sense is now archaic, but it provides a clue about the origins of the word. "Perdition" was borrowed into English in the 14th century from Anglo-French "perdiciun" and ultimately derives from the Latin verb "perdere," meaning "to destroy." "Perdere" was formed by combining the prefix "per-" ("through") and "dare" ("to give"). Other descendants of that Latin "dare" in English include "date," "edition," "render," and "traitor."

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