• pilgrim •
Pronunciation: pil-grêm • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A vagabond, wanderer, wayfarer, traveler. 2. A religious devotee who travels a long distance to a sacred site.
Notes: Every Thanksgiving (except in 2020) people in the United States make pilgrimages homeward to spend the holiday their families. As you can see, pilgrims make pilgrimages. We may also pilgrimage to a special site, using the noun as a verb without any prefix or suffix.
In Play: The austere Puritans who founded Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620 were called 'pilgrims' because they fled religious persecution in England to a new home in America. The term was first applied in Governor William Bradford's Journal Of Plimouth Plantation, written between 1630 and 1650, then popularized in Cotton Mather's Magnalia Christi Americana (1702). Only half the 102 original Pilgrims survived their first winter at Plymouth. They, with strong support of local Native Americans, survived to multiply and, joined by many others over the succeeding years, spread across the continent to build a nation.
Word History: I'm sure you've always wondered what falcons and pilgrims have in common. Today we find out. Pilgrim is a folk etymological rendering of Old French peligrin, since pil(l) and grim are true English words. Old French inherited the word from Latin peregrinus "foreign, strange", an adjective derived from pereger "abroad, away". Pereger was originally a compound comprising per "through, beyond" + ager "land, field", also found in agriculture. The root behind ager came through the Germanic line to English acre. The peregrine falcon's name came from a Latin phrase, 'falco peregrinus', so named because they were captured during migration rather than taken from their nest as fledglings.