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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:50 pm

• acolyte •

Pronunciation: æ-kê-lait • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A young person who assists a priest during a religious ceremony; an altar boy or (since 1983) an altar girl. 2. An attendant, follower, or supporter.

Notes: This word is so closely associated with the Church that it always carries a faint intimation of religious service. So, it should be used only where this intimation is comfortable, in connection with an activity resembling a ritual. It has a qualitative noun, acolyteship "the position or office of an acolyte", and an adjective, acolytic.

In Play: As mentioned just above, today's Good Word is used mostly in church: "When he noticed the old man's head nodding sleepily and drool running from the corner of his mouth, the acolyte guffawed in the middle of the ceremony." However, it may be used in reference to any attendant in a ritualistic ceremony: "The company president arrived with a retinue of acolytes, who busied themselves with seeing that the interview went without a hitch."

Word History: Acolyte comes directly from Medieval Latin acolytus; English only brushed off the case ending. Acolytus, in its turn, was borrowed by Latin from Greek akolouthos "accompanying, attendant (on)", literally "having the same path", based on a- "together with" + keleuthose "way, road, path". The ultimate source of the Greek word is the rare Proto-Indo-European word keleu- "to wander; path", as seen in Lithuanian keliáuju "trip, journey" from kelias "way". (Thank you, Susan Ardith, for another excellent Good Word suggestion.)
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Perry Lassiter
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Re: Acolyte

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Sep 05, 2013 1:05 pm

I fear my connotations of the second meaning of acolyte are somewhaat pejorative. In the doc's example, I think of the acolytes as yes-men, subservient to the boss's every wish.

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Re: Acolyte

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Sep 05, 2013 2:17 pm

Prior to the Roman Vatican 2 council, the Order of
Acolyte was an ordained ministry along with others
called "minor order" before receiving the 'major orders'
of sub-deacon, an deacon, then priest. Disappeared
when thrown out with the bathwater and the baby.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----

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Re: Acolyte

Postby MTC » Thu Sep 05, 2013 5:54 pm

Acolytes finally burst out of their subservient role in Marvel Comics:

Acolytes are a team of comic book mutant supervillains in the Marvel Comics universe. The Acolytes followed the principles of the mutant Magneto, particularly the mutant right of superiority over normal humans....

And about time, I'd say.

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Re: Acolyte

Postby gailr » Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:17 pm

^ But they're still in uniform (just like their clerical counterparts) to reduce any whims of personal identity or independence ... :wink:

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