• jehu •
jee-hu • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. (Capitalized) A king of Israel in the 9th century BC, described as a furious charioteer. 2. A reckless driver of any vehicle. 3. A cab or coach driver, or a chauffeur, especially an aggressive one.
Notes: Today's Good Word is not to be confused with yahoo, the race of bestial people in Swift's Gulliver's Travels or the popular search engine on the Web. Today's word has no relatives in English, though it may be used as a verb.
In Play: Jehus may be drivers or chauffeurs, but the term is used most often in reference to dare-devil driving off the track: "Clarence, don't drive like a jehu! This is a funeral procession, after all." Since this term is relatively rare in the US, the metaphorical possibilities have hardly been explored: "Some jehu out there on the information highway hacked my website last night." We hope you never meet a jehu on life's highway.
Word History: A commonization of the proper name Jehu from 2 Kings 9:20 "The lookout reported, 'He has reached them, but he isn't coming back either. The driving is like that of Jehu, son of Nimshi—he drives like a madman.'" Jehu drove a one horsepower chariot, so the meaning of this word has drifted far from the horsepower-crazed jehus on the freeways today. We may then say that Jehu, son of Nimshi, is the eponym of today's word. Since it is now a common noun, we may write it with a small letter, even though most dictionaries still capitalize it. (We thank Whitney Schauer of Eau Claire, Wisconsin for suggesting today's word and wish him jehu-free driving wherever he goes.)
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