• toxophilite •
Pronunciation: tahk-sah-fê-lait • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A devotee of archery, an archery enthusiast, an archery lover.
Notes: Today's word is an odd word because of the suffix -ite on the end. We have a whole series of words meaning "lover of" or "devotee of" containing the Greek word philos "loving, lover", but none with the additional suffix -ite: logophile, Francophile, zoophile. Why the odd suffix? Find out in the Word History. This word may also be used as an adjective; the noun is toxophily.
In Play: Today's Good Word handily replaces the English phrase 'archery lover': "The arrow protruding from the victim's back was a clue to investigators that the perpetrator was a toxophilite." However, remember it may be used adjectivally, too: "Archer Bowman challenged everyone at the garden party to a toxophilite competition in which the winner would get the quiver of the loser, filled with the loser's arrows."
Word History: Roger Ascham's Toxophilus, first published in 1545, defended archery against the claim that it was not a sport for an educated person. A toxophilite, then, referred originally to a follower of Toxophilus, the central character of the book, himself a devotee of archery. Ascham created Toxophilus from the Greek words toxon "bow" + filos "loving, lover". The suffix -ite was a common suffix referring to a follower of someone: Luddite, Mennonite, Trotskyite. The root of toxon, tek-/tok- "run, flow, hurry", did not make it to the Germanic languages such as English, but is prominent in the Baltic and Slavic languages, as Russian tok "(a) flow" and Lithuanian tekét "to run, flow" show. (We should thank Conita Benson, whether toxophile or not, for discovering and recommending today's Good if obscure Word.)