• venery •
Pronunciation: ven-êr-ri • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass
Meaning: 1. Hunting. 2. The game hunted. 3. Indulgence in sexual activity.
Notes: Obviously, the differences in meanings are so great as to require caution with the contexts in which this word is used. Venereal is the only adjective widely used and it refers exclusively to sexual notions or to the character of someone given to the pleasures of Venus.
In Play: The sense of "hunting" has been greatly subdued by this word's association with Venus, the Roman goddess of passionate love, so using the term to refer to the hunt is probably ill-advised. Even "Carlton loves his summer venery in the woods" is ambiguous and sexual connotations always rise to the top and are the most socially damaging. So, unless Carlton is wont to wander with wanton women in the woods with wicked wishes, avoid such locutions.
Word History: Today's word is based on Latin venor "to hunt, chase" via Medieval Latin venaria "a hunt, chase" and French. Venison derives via French from the original Latin venatio(n) "hunting" and originally referred to any game meat, an example of semantic narrowing. The other meaning of venery derives from Venerius "pertaining to Venus, sexual love". All of these Latin words share a common source with English win, wish, winsome and Sanskrit vanam "forest." (Thanks to hunting enthusiast Phil Anders of Smoketown, Pennsylvania, for today's Good Word.)