• bucolic •
Pronunciation: byu-kaw-lik or byu-kah-lik • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Rural, simple, countrified, uncomplicated as life once was in the country. 2. Romantically rustic, pastoral; peaceful and surrounded by natural beauty.
Notes: Picture a shepherd dozing with his flock in a green pasture surrounded by green, rolling hills on a warm, sunny day and you will mentally capture the original meaning of today's Good and beautiful Word. The adverb is bucolically and the noun, bucolicism, refers to an artistic (poetry, music, art) style that emphasizes a romanticized rustic country life.
In Play: Rural is the adjective for the country as it is today; bucolic implies a romanticized view of rural living: "Have you heard? Farnsworth sold his business and his mansion and has moved into a cozy little bungalow out in the boonies to enjoy the bucolic pleasures of the country." City folk might enjoy a bucolic frolic on the weekend. You may use it to refer to country life today, though: "The bucolic high school Gwendolyn attended didn't prepare her for the rigors of college." The implication here is that it may have been a bit too peaceful and enjoyable.
Word History: Today's Good Word is another snitched, via French, from Latin bucolicus "pastoral". Don't feel bad about our snitching it from the Romans; they took it from Greek boukolikos "of or like a cowherd", the adjective of boukolos "cowherd". This word is made up of bous "cow" + -kolos "herdsman". Bous goes back to Proto-Indo-European gwou-, the same word that produced English cow. This root emerged in Sanskrit as gauh "cow", which came down to Hindi as gaya, the holy animal of India. In Greek, though, words beginning on |gw| tended to lose the |g|, after which the |w| became |b|. The |b| then reduplicated itself to produce boubalos "bufflo", which worked its way down to English as buffalo. (We wish Shelby Battle many, many bucolic moments for the moment of tranquility brought by the Good Word she suggested for today.)
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Definition of Irony: When I hear this word, I think of Ms. Buccola, who was the music teacher in my elementary school the first two or three years I went there. She always seemed the exact opposite of "bucolic." In fact, I think the best word for her is "overdone." Like she'd been pulled over for speeding on her way to some society cotillion, and was sentenced to teach an elementary school music class as part of her community service.
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