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Virago

Posted: Tue May 26, 2009 11:42 pm
by Dr. Goodword

• virago •


Pronunciation: vê-rah-go • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: We rarely encounter words whose meanings vary according to the gender of the speaker, but today's Good Word is one. To some women, this word means "a strong, heroic, courageous woman; a female warrior." Men, on the other hand, tend to consider viragos female bullies, vociferous scolds or shrews, or just domineering women. The difference is mainly one of the speaker's attitude toward strong women.

Notes: We still haven't decided how to spell the plural of this word, so both viragos and viragoes are acceptable. Keep in mind that this word has not lost its Latin pronunciation of the middle A as [ah].

In Play: Unfortunately, women still have to be 'pushy' to go where men go: "Margie wouldn’t be the president of this company today if she weren’t a very smart virago." The fact remains that some males continue to hold a negative view of women who exhibit the same characteristics applauded in men: "That virago who recently took over the president's office won't listen to a thing I tell her."

Word History: Virago is the translation of the Hebrew word for "woman" in Genesis 2:23 of the Latin Vulgate Bible, a fifth century translation. The King James version of the same passage reads: "And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Early English translations simply lifted the Latin word. The Latin word comprises vir "man" + an odd suffix. It was probably used because the Hebrew word for "man", unlike the Latin, sounds like the word for "woman". The original Proto-Indo-European word which led to vir in Latin became Old English wer "man", visible today only in the word for the man-wolf, werewolf. (We are happy that Maureen Koplow is enough of a virago to bring the subtleties of this Good Word to our attention.)

Posted: Sat May 30, 2009 11:16 pm
by skinem
Interesting...thank you!

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A little place I go to sometimes in Nashvegas...

And I used to own one of the these, a Yamaha Virago, the first v-twin manufactured by a Japanese murdercycle company...I always figured it was a made-up model name...

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Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 10:53 am
by Perry
There are mainly two words for man in Hebrew. In this case the word is "eesh" (and the feminine is "eesha") (איש, אשה). But the name Adam, also means man. The same root is used in the word for earth, which is "adama" (אדם, אדמה).

Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 12:50 pm
by Slava
skinem wrote: a Yamaha Virago, the first v-twin manufactured by a Japanese murdercycle company...I always figured it was a made-up model name.


I wonder if perhaps "virago" is a sound that means something else in Japanese. Anyone out there know the language?

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:19 am
by Stargzer
Perry wrote: ... The same root is used in the word for earth, which is "adama" (אדם, אדמה).


"By your leave" [says Stargzer in a low, gravelly, robotic voice], "that's a reference I never saw until now; the same goes for the number of Colonies."

Wikipedia wrote: ... Adama is the commander of the great military vessel Battlestar Galactica, commander of the refugee fleet and military commander of the evacuees of the Twelve Colonies.


He was searching for the planet he was named after!

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:59 am
by Stargzer
Slava wrote: ... I wonder if perhaps "virago" is a sound that means something else in Japanese. Anyone out there know the language?


I wouldn't be surprised. "Subaru" is the Japanese name for the asterism Westerners know as "The Pleiades" or "The Seven Sisters" and I think that "Tercel" means "Hawk."

Oops. Wrong again, Buzzard Breath:
Wikipedia wrote: ... The name "Tercel" derives from the Latin word for "one third" as the Tercel was slightly smaller than the Corolla — much the way "tiercel" refers to a male falcon, which is one-third smaller than its female counterpart.


Wikipedia wrote: ... The traditional term for a male falcon is tercel (British spelling) or tiercel (American spelling), from Latin tertius = third because of the belief that only one in three eggs hatched a male bird. Some sources give the etymology as deriving from the fact that a male falcon is approximately one third smaller than the female (Old French tiercelet).


Hmmm ... so the Japanese stole that model name from Ford! [Stargzer has fond memories of a 6-cylinder 1964 Ford Falcon station wagon ...]

But Stargzer does know his Astronomy:

Wikipedia wrote:Fuji Heavy Industries, the parent company of Subaru, is currently in a partnership with Toyota Motor Corporation, which owns 16.5% of FHI. The company is named after the star cluster [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleiades_(star_cluster)#Names_and_pronunciation]Pleiades[/url], which in Greek mythology is known as the Seven Sisters, and in Japanese mythology the name is "Subaru", which roughly translated into English means, "to govern", "unite," or "gather together". The company logo is influenced by the star cluster. The large star in the logo represents Fuji Heavy Industries, and the five smaller stars represent the current five companies that are united under the FHI group.