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RAVENOUS

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RAVENOUS

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:03 am

• ravenous •


Pronunciation: ræ-vê-nês • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Extraordinarily hungry.

Notes: Today's word seems to have been derived from the second meaning of the verb raven "to gorge oneself, devour voraciously", as in, "After cleaning the garage all morning long, the children ravened on hamburgers and French fries." We seldom use the verb, however, though it is still there to be used. Ravenous has a family of two: an adverb, ravenously, and a noun, ravenousness.

In Play: This word most often refers to gluttonous eating: "Coming in after a long, hard soccer game, the kids were so ravenous they ate spinach without uttering a word of complaint." It works just as well with other types of consumption besides eating: "Rhoda Book ravenously devoured every word of the article about herself and her new novel."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes to us from Old French ravineux, from raviner "to take by force". This verb was inherited by French from Vulgar (Street) Latin rapinere, a word derived from the noun rapina "robbery, plunder". The meaning shifted from "plunder" to "plunderous eating" in Middle English. The original Proto-Indo-European root underlying rapina, rep- "to snatch", was also the origin of English rob, German rauben "rob", and Italian rapinare "rob". The PIE word also became Latin rapidus "seizing" whose meaning, over time, shifted to "swift, rapid", at which point English borrowed it, too. (Today we thank Husain Mustfa, whose ravenous appetite for English words led him to suggest this extremely interesting good one for our series.)
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Re: RAVENOUS

Postby MTC » Wed Nov 14, 2012 5:51 am

Curiously, despite their superficial similarity raven the noun and ravenous the adjective have different etymologies. According to the American Heritage Dictionary raven comes from Old English hræfn, while according to the good Doc ravenous comes from Latin ravina.

I would appreciate it if Dr. G would clarify the relationship or lack thereof between raven the noun and raven the verb. According to the American Heritage Dictionary raven the verb comes "(f)rom Middle English ravin, raven, rapine, plunder, prey; see ravin.]"

All these "ravens," nouns, adjectives, and verbs are fluttering around my mind in a confused way just now...
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Re: RAVENOUS

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:06 pm

"gluttonous eating"?
Looks like Doc is getting ready for Thanksgiving.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: RAVENOUS

Postby Slava » Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:40 pm

MTC, I hope the birds have settled down, but if not perhaps I can help. I do believe the two ravens are simply homonyms. Two different words with utterly separate etymologies. One's a bird, the other's a verb.
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Re: RAVENOUS

Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed Nov 14, 2012 4:38 pm

I thought the verb had a short A as in ravel.

No one has mentioned ravine. Is it so called because it appears to have been eaten our of the ground?
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Re: RAVENOUS

Postby Slava » Wed Nov 14, 2012 4:49 pm

Perry Lassiter wrote:I thought the verb had a short A as in ravel.

No one has mentioned ravine. Is it so called because it appears to have been eaten our of the ground?
First one, yep. Second, not quite. Here's what etymonline has to say:
ravine
1760, "deep gorge," from Fr. ravin "a gully" (1690, from O.Fr. raviner "to hollow out"), and from Fr. ravine "violent rush of water, gully," from O.Fr. ravine "violent rush, robbery, rapine," both ult. from L. rapina (see rapine); sense influenced by L. rapidus "rapid." M.E.
ravine meant "booty, plunder, robbery" from c.1350-1500. Cf. ravening.
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Re: RAVENOUS

Postby MTC » Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:24 pm

In reply to Slava, thank you for the assist; however, raven the noun and raven the verb are not homonyms because they are pronounced differently: the noun is pronounced "REY-vuhn," and the verb is pronounced "RAV-uhn." Instead, I believe they are heteronyms; words which are spelled the same, but pronounced differently. I agree they have different etymologies as my post indicated.
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Re: RAVENOUS

Postby Slava » Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:37 pm

I stand corrected. My bad. :(
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Re: RAVENOUS

Postby MTC » Thu Nov 15, 2012 5:15 am

Considering your contributions, Slava, no need to apologize.
At times like these I am reminded of Jackie Vernon's immortal words, "A wet bird never flies at night." Ravens included.
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Re: RAVENOUS

Postby call_copse » Thu Nov 15, 2012 7:31 am

@Slava, MTC - strictly speaking homonyms are both spelled and pronounced the same way. I am pretty certain that in looser communication however it is perfectly acceptable to use homonym to refer to either homographs or homophones. So please feel free to stand down on your apology if preferred Slava as I don't believe we could or should term this forum overly formal, correct me if wrong.

Jackie Vernon and his catchphrase however could be said to buffalo me.
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Re: RAVENOUS

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:30 pm

I make two in that bison herd.
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Re: RAVENOUS

Postby MTC » Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:57 pm

Don't trouble yourselves trying to decode the "wet bird" saying.
It means whatever you want it to mean, everything and nothing. It's a punchline from a joke popularized by Jackie Vernon on a comedy album and later by Johnny Carson on T.V. I thought perhaps some fellow codgers would recall the line and have a laugh. Instead it fell flat. Oh well, no need to flagellate myself further...
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