• Cupid •
Pronunciation: kyu-pid • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. (Cupid) The Roman god of love. 2. (cupid) A representation of Cupid as a naked cherubic boy usually having wings and holding a bow and arrow, used as a symbol of romantic love.
Notes: Cupid's bow for shooting arrows curves inward in the middle and usually outward at the ends. Cupid's arrows, however, are the delicious pangs of love, and St. Valentine's Day is the day to look out for the little cherub. To learn more about St. Valentine, click here.
In Play: Cupid is first and foremost an abstraction symbolizing romantic, not platonic, love: "Marjorie has been playing Cupid again, trying to fix Ben Gay up with a girlfriend." We do occasionally use this word to refer to the Roman child-god: "In love! You say you are in love! Cupid has been playing around with your psyche just as he played around with the real one in Roman mythology!" (For clarification, read on.)
Word History: Today's Good Word, like so many others, comes to us from Latin: Cupid was the Roman god of love (Eros in Greek mythology). The name is based on cupido "desire" from the verb cupere "to desire". The noun cupidity "greed, avarice" comes from the same source. Romance, of course, is a special case of strong desire. According to Roman mythology, Cupid was the son of Mercury, the messenger god with the wings on his ankles, and Venus, the goddess of love. Venus' daughter Psyche had such a radiant beauty that it rivaled that of Venus, so Romans were deserting Venus to worship her. This angered Venus, so she asked Cupid to cast a spell on Psyche that would make her fall in love with the most loathsome creature on Earth. Cupid, however, filled with desire for Psyche himself, had her spirited away to a magnificent palace where he visited her every night.