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panoply

Printable Version Pronunciation: pæn-ê-pli Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A splendiferous or sumptuous display, as a panoply of colorful flags. 2. A complete or large collection, a panoply of ice cream flavors. 3. Ceremonial attire, full dress uniform: the general in full panoply. 4. A complete set of armor, the knight arrived in panoply.

Notes: This word may be used as a verb in the sense of "fit out in a complete suit of armor". It is accompanied by an adjective, panoplied "attired in panoply", which may be the past participle of this verb, or the word may exhibit the same adjective suffix, -ed "having", that we see in forested, balconied, windowed. The latter is the more probable explanation, since the adjective preceded the verb by almost a century. The adjective first appeared in print in 1730; the verb, in 1821.

In Play: We don't have much use today for the original meaning (4. above), so let's move the first sense of this word: "When Harley Davidson arrived at the salsa party, he found a panoply of colorfully attired, unattached women there." An example of the second sense would be: "We can find a panoply of apps at any app store, some of which are free."

Word History: The semantic development of today's Good Word is the reverse of the order of meanings above. The word originated as Greek panopli "full armor", created from pan "all" + hopla "arms, armor", the plural of hoplon "weapon". We don't know where hoplon comes from. It only appears again in English as hoplite, the word for a Greek soldier. Pan, too, the neuter form of pas "all, whole", is difficult to trace. Since it is such a short word, it underwent a considerable number of changes. It started out as a word meaning "to swell", but came to mean "pregnant" or "powerful" in most Indo-European languages. (Dr. Goodword thought this word should be among the words in the Good Word dictionary, so volunteered the word himself.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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