• homage •Pronunciation: (h)ah-mij, ah-mahzh • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. Formal acknowledgement of a vassal's allegiance to his feudal lord. 2. Special honor expressed publicly, something created in honor or celebration of someone.
Notes: Here is another word, like honor, honest, and the American pronunciation of herb (but not Herb), that begins with a silent H. Only one derivation has survived the ages, homager "a vassal; a worshiper, someone who is respectful".
In Play: We normally pay homage to men and women of importance: "Willy was quickly corrected when he bowed in homage to the president." However, we should withhold our homages except for men and women of significant accomplishment: "When Mike Angelo was caught painting graffiti on school walls, he declared he did it as an homage to Pablo Picasso."
Word History: Today's Good Word entered Middle English, apparently from Old French omne or homme "man". This word dribbled down from Latin homo, homin- "human being, man". Now, the Proto-Indo-European word dhghem-/dhghom- "person" emerged in Latin as both homo and humanus "human", borrowed by English (via French) as both human and humane. Homo is preserved today in French homme, Italian uomo, Portuguese homem, and Spanish hombre. English inherited the PIE word via its Germanic ancestors as guma "man". This word was influenced by groom "stable boy" between Old and Modern English. In Old English it was brydguma, but today we say bridegroom. (Let's just say "thank you" to our old friend Sue Gold of Westtown School in homage to her many, many Good Word suggestions like today's.)