• eulogy •
Pronunciation: yu-lê-jee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A laudatory oration or written encomium in praise of someone, especially after that person's death.
Notes: Today's Good Word has gravitated toward speeches given at a funeral. For formal praise of someone living, a rarely encountered word, eulogium, might be better. The adjective accompanying this word is eulogistic, and it also comes with a verb, to eulogize.
In Play: Eulogies are most often heard at funerals: "Melissa recalled only the good times they had enjoyed together in her eulogy to her husband in the casket before her." We do have written eulogies: "Aiken Hart's memorial eulogy to his father in the Times-Picayune used references to the recent solar eclipse to illustrate his loss."
Word History: Today's Good Word was taken from Greek eulogia "praise". In the New Testament it is used for "blessing". It is made up of eus "good" or eu "well" + logos "word, idea" + -ia, a noun suffix. Eu legein meant in Greek "to speak well of". Greek inherited eus from PIE (e)su- "good", also the origin of Sanskrit swastika "good luck", composed of su- "good" + esti- "being" + -ka, a noun suffix. Logos spread widely throughout the Indo-European languages. It is most prominently used as some form of -logy in most European languages, now meaning "the study of", as in biology "the study of life". It comes from PIE leg-/log-, so we also see it in borrowings like lexical, legible, and legend. (I cannot use eulogium enough to express my gratitude to George Kovac for the Good Words like today's that he has suggested over the years.)