• mentor •
men-têr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A wise and trusted older advisor.
Notes: The relationship of a mentor to his or her protégé (advisee) is generally taken to be mentorship. The adjective for this noun is mentorial, as mentorial advice or a mentorial affection. The noun itself may be used as a verb, for mentors mentor others. In South Africa, protégé is considered politically incorrect and is being replaced by mentee, implying that the verb is ment. It isn't, so let's protect ourselves against this one.
In Play: We become mentors via any one of a variety of relationships: "By the middle of her life, Beatrix had concluded that her best mentor had always been her mother." Choosing the right mentor to listen to is a critical step in anyone's life: "Lester was stunned to hear that his long-time financial mentor had been arrested for insider trading."
Word History: Today's Good Word is another Latin borrowing via French. Latin borrowed the word from Greek, where it was the name of a close friend of Odysseus, left to look after Odysseus' son, Telemachus, when he went away on his Odyssey, according to Greek mythology. Mentor's name appears to be an agent noun of mentos "intent, purpose, spirit". This word came from Proto-Indo-European root men- "mind, think", which turned up in Latin men(t)s "mind". We find this root in many words borrowed from Latin, such as mental, mention, and the suffix -ment. English also inherited this root directly through its Germanic ancestors as mind. (We are grateful to Ed Bedford for mentoring us with the suggestion we run today's Good Word.)
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