• drachenfutter •
Pronunciation: drah-kin-fê-dêr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A present given to assuage someone who is angry with you or has been otherwise offended.
Notes: Here is a word just barely crawling into the English lexicon, but which I feel the language needs. It is not a sniglet though, for it is clearly of German origin. It is so clearly foreign it has no English lexical relatives.
In Play: This word is most often used for husbands who come home late or offend their wives in some other way: "Harry has brought his wife so many drachenfutters, they no longer work." We find many other opportunities to use this word, though: "When Arnold borrowed Ben's drill and burned the motor out, he returned one that cost twice as much as the original one, more as a drachenfutter than as a replacement."
Word History: Today's Good Word is a recent arrival from German, where its literal translation is Drachen "dragon" + Futter "feed, fodder". German borrowed the first word from Old French, which inherited it from Latin draco(n) "large serpent", borrowed from Greek drako(n) "serpent". English tarragon may have come from the same source. Greek tarkhon "tarragon" was borrowed by Latin as tarchon. This word most likely was a Classical Greek variant of drako(n). Futter shares its origin with English feed, food and fodder, PIE pat- "feed, protect". It also underlies foster, as in 'foster parents', people who take in orphans to feed and protect. (This note of thanks to Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira for finding and recommending today's Good Word is no drachenfutter, but sincere gratitude for this and his years of service as a Good Word editor.)