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Anniversary

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Anniversary

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:39 pm

• anniversary •


Pronunciation: æn-ê-vêr-sêr-ri • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, Adjective

Meaning: The annual recurrence of the date of an important event in some previous year or the celebration thereof.

Notes: The person recommending today's Good Word is frustrated by the misuse of it. There is no 'six-month anniversary' of anything, since the meaning contains the sense of "annual". Also, if you want to be meticulously correct, we don't have 'five-year anniversaries', since anniversaries cover only one year apiece. We should say a much tidier 'fifth anniversary'. Since this word may be used as an adjective (anniversary celebration), it has an adverbial form: anniversarily, as in anniversarily celebrated.

In Play: Remember the actual meaning of the word when you use it in phrases like this: "AlphaDictionary celebrates its 10th anniversary this year (2004-2014)—a rather long existence for a website." Remember anniversaries occur once a year, no more, no less: "Marley celebrated the anniversary of his 25 years of service to the company by resigning."

Word History: Middle English copied anniversarie from French, which inherited it from Medieval Latin (dies) anniversaria "anniversary (day)". This developed from the feminine of the Classical Latin compound adjective anniversarius "returning yearly", based on the words annus "year" + versus, the past participle of vertere "to turn". Annus comes from a suffixed form of the Proto-Indo-European word at- "go": at-no. The result in Latin, annus, produced many words that English borrowed, such as annual, annuity, annals, not to mention words on -enni- such as millennium and biennial. Vertere comes from the same PIE root meaning "turn, twist" as English wreath, writhe and weird "twisted". (This month marks the first anniversary of the last Good Word suggestion from Don Andreatta: decadence.)
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Re: Anniversary

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Jan 23, 2014 3:00 pm

I suspect this is the case of a word's sliding in meaning. Of course it is derived from the word or words meaning year. But the concept of marking a beginning date appears to come quite easily from it. I hear teenage girls speaking of a one-month anniversary of their first date. Ridiculous, but still the word is widely used in its expanded sense. This of course raises the old question, regularly discussed in the agora, of whether dictionary should be prescriptive or descriptive.
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