• entourage •
Pronunciation: ahn-tu-razh • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A retinue of followers, attendants, or supporters in tow. 2. Surroundings, environment.
Notes: This word has maintained the original French pronunciation except the accent has moved from the final syllable to the first. Like most if not all French borrowings ending on the suffix -age, it is a lexical orphan.
In Play: An entourage of a controversial figure usually has functions: "The entourages of presidential candidates are usually seated behind him at rallies so that they may be seen cheering him or her on television." One such function is to reflect the self-perceived importance of a celebrity: "The importance of a movie star may be gauged by the size of his or her entourage."
Word History: Middle English just copied Old French entourage "surroundings, environment", a derivation based on entourer "to surround", itself derived from entour "surroundings". English, over the years since, narrowed the sense of the French word to just people surrounding another person. The original French root is made up of en- "in" + tour "turn, path around, revolution (in the non-violent sense)". English gobbled up the latter for its tour, while it was feasting on turn from Old French tourner "to turn on a lathe" at the same time. Both these words came from PIE terê-/torê- "to rub, polish, turn (on a lathe)", source also of Russian teret' "to rub", Serbian trti "to rub", Greek teiro "I rub". We can also see it in Lithuanian tìrti "to study, investigate" and understand the semantic migration. It arrived in Modern English as throw, in the sense of 'throw pots', which is done on a spinning wheel. (Now let's tip our hats to Albert Skiles for discovering such a fascinating Good Word as today's and sharing it with us.)