• quinquagenary •
Part of Speech: Noun, adjective.
Meaning: A 50th anniversary.
Notes: This is a seldom used word, no doubt, because we ignore large anniversaries denoting fewer than 100 years (a centenary or centennial). It may be used as a noun (the quinquagenary of their wedding) or an adjective (their quinquagenary wedding celebration). This word is obviously related to quinquagenarian "(a) 50-year-old" but no other words of any frequency at all.
In Play: Today's Good Word came to mind as Dr. Goodword and his lovely wife, Helen Faye, celebrate their quinquagenary among their brothers, sisters, children and grandchildren at their home. Being celebrated is, as he puts it in the dedication of The 100 Most Beautiful Words in English, "a half century of love and friendship and the journey of a life time." With today's Good Word, I celebrate those 50 wonderful years, the remarkable children and grandchildren they produced, and promise to avoid such personal indulgences for the next fifty years.
Word History: Today's potentially poignant Good Word comes from Latin quinquagenarius "having fifty", derived from quinquageni "fifty each". The word for "fifty" itself is quinquaginta, based on the word for "five", quinque. This word is still around today as cinque in Italian, cinq in French, and cinco in Portuguese and Spanish. Etymologists assume that the original Proto-Indo-European word for "five" was something like penkwe-, because it shows up in Greek as pente (as in pentagon), and in Sanskrit as pancam. Since we expect the Germanic languages to change the P to F, we are not surprised at English five and German fünf. It might surprise us to know that the same root turned up in two other English words related to the meaning "five", one with an N (finger) and one without (fist).
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