• panegyric •
Pronunciation: pæn-ê-jai-rik • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, Adjective
Meaning: 1. (Noun) An encomium, a speech or other creative work of praise. 2. (Adjective) Laudatory, having the character of a panegyric.
Notes: Today's word is sometimes taken to imply overly laudatory praise, undeserved praise, but it is used more often in the positive rather than the negative sense. The adjective may be extended by the meaningless suffix -al, panegyrical, but we must insert this suffix before converting it to an adverb: panegyrically only.
In Play: Funerals are the best place to hear panegyrics: "I avoid most funerals because I dislike listening to panegyrics for people who lived rotten lives." However, panegyrics often arise elsewhere: "Jerry Mander's panegyrics over his political party left the impression that its membership was restricted to angels."
Word History: Like half the words in English today, this word came from Latin via French: Latin panegyricus "public eulogy" became French panégyrique, borrowed by English as panegyric. But English is not the only language that borrows; Latin took its word from the Greek phrase panegyrikos logos "an assembly-for-all word (speech). The Greek adjective came from the noun panegyris "public assembly", made up of pan "all" + agyris "assembly place, market". Agyris a regional variant of agora "assembly place, market". This word may remind you of our own social assembly, the Alpha Agora, where Good Word readers gather to discuss the daily word. Agora comes from the Proto-Indo-European base ger- "to gather". It turns up again in gregarious from Latin gregarius "part of a flock or herd", hence the English sense of "sociable". (Let's lift a mild panegyric to Mark Bailey, whose Good Word suggestions over the past 10 years, like this one, have been phenomenal.)