• apollonian •
Pronunciation: æ-pê-lon-i-ên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. (Capital A) Related to the Greek god Apollo. 2. (small a) The opposite of dionysian: clear, harmonious, ordered, self-disciplined. 3. (Small a) Serenely high-minded, noble. 4. (Capital A) In the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, embodying the power of critical reason rather than intuitive and uncontrolled, possibly creative.
Notes: Just remember that in this word the L is doubled, not the P, and you'll be OK with the spelling. Due in part to the German philosopher Nietzsche we now associate Apollo with cool harmonious reasoning rather than creative instinct and uninhibited emotional spontaneity, which we now associate with Dionysius (dionysian).
In Play: The second sense of today's Good Word is most often used today: "The play was about the struggle between dionysian excess and the more restrained, rational apollonian human tendencies." The third sense of today's word is seldom heard: "It is hard to find an apollonian mind anywhere in the political world today."
Word History: Apollo was an Olympian deity, god of music, poetry, medicine. The name is a Latin form of Greek Apollon, which is of uncertain origin. The name is probably pre-Greek. The Hittite name Appaliunaš, mentioned in a treaty between Alaksandus of Wilusa and the Hittite king, may well have been reduced to the pre-Greek proto-form Apal'un. It is much less likely that it comes from apollyon "destroying (one)", the present participle of apollymi "to destroy, which underlies Apollyon, the name given to the Devil, since Apollo was considered a perfect male youth. (Our old friend and frequent contributor Rob Towart obliquely recommended today's Good Word when he suggested doing dionysian. We found more information on apollonian.)