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Cornucopia

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Cornucopia

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Nov 24, 2013 11:46 pm

• cornucopia •


Pronunciation: kor-nyê-kop-ee-yê • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A horn of plenty, a horn spilling fruit and nuts. 2. A surfeit, plethora, superfluity in great variety; a superabundance.

Notes: The original cornucopia was the horn of the goat Amalthea, which suckled Zeus, chief of the Olympian gods in ancient Greek religion. The horn broke off and began to spill forth fruit. Today it is a common symbol for Thanksgiving in the US, since that day originally celebrated the first Harvest Home for the settlers of Plymouth, Massachusetts. The adjective, should you need one, is cornucopian.

In Play: Cornucopia today refers to anything available in superabundance and, usually, variety: "My neighbor has such a cornucopia of tools I find it more convenient to borrow them than buy my own." In its literal sense, it generally refers to holiday decoration: "The table was decorated with a cornucopia of plastic fruit and vegetables, some of which, judging by the taste of it, went into the meal."

Word History: Today's word is yet another Latin one, this one created from the phrase cornu copiae "horn of plenty." Latin cornu "horn" comes from the same Proto-Indo-European root as English horn and is related to Greek karoton "carrot", a horn-like vegetable. Another variant of the same root emerges as Greek kranion "skull," which Latin converted to cranium before lending it to us. The rein in reindeer comes from Old Norse hreinn "reindeer" of the same origin. The same root, less the [n], underlies the sar in Hindi sardar "person of high rank" from Persian sar "head" + dar "holder". Hebrew, a Semitic language, borrowed sar from Persian in the sense of "minister", and also uses it in the proper name, Sarah or Sara.
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Re: Cornucopia

Postby MTC » Mon Nov 25, 2013 9:37 pm

Starting with the well-established image of the cornucopia as a symbol of abundance, in a quick search around the internet I found the Roman godesss of abundance was Abundantia. There is a picture of her with a horn of plenty at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abundantia

This led me to the origin of the word "abundance" which directs to "abound" on Etymonline:

abound (v.) Look up abound at Dictionary.com
early 14c., from Old French abonder "to abound, be abundant, come together in great numbers" (12c.), from Latin abundare "overflow, run over," from Latin ab- "off" (see ab-) + undare "rise in a wave," from unda "water, wave" (see water (n.)). Related: Abounded; abounding.

And visually that's just what a cornucopia does, starting from a point at the tip it builds to an abundant overflow at the end like a wave. This may be why men consciously or unconsciously chose the horn as a symbol of abundance in the first place. And perhaps not coincidentally the horn also reminds us of the
origin of the universe starting with a singularity, a point of infinite density, and building like a wave to its present state of vastness and abundance.
Last edited by MTC on Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:10 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Cornucopia

Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:33 am

MTC: point of infinite density -- abundant overflow. You just may have something there. I suggest we call it the Big Bang Theory and try to get the scientific community to accept it.
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Re: Cornucopia

Postby MTC » Tue Nov 26, 2013 9:10 am

OK, Philip. You first!
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Re: Cornucopia

Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Nov 26, 2013 8:11 pm

Dumb me! I thought a horn was something you blew! Thus a horn of plenty might be a sousaphone.
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Re: Cornucopia

Postby Pepshort » Thu Nov 28, 2013 1:00 am

I'm not sure upon what basis the good Dr. states that Hebrew borrowed 'sar' (meaning 'minister') from Persian. See Genesis 40:2, where the term 'sar' clearly means 'minister'. Unless the Dr. is suggesting that the Persian language itself predates Hebrew -- a proposition certainly open to debate.
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Re: Cornucopia

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Nov 29, 2013 3:20 pm

There are those scholars, who some call liberal, who maintain parts of the Pentateuch were written, amended, or translated by a priestly group in the late seventh to fifth centuries BCE. Certainly from Moses' time in the 14-13th centuries the language had changed. Since the oldest of the Hebrew books or fragments we have are in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the older copies must have been re-translated even as we have updated the KJV.
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