Pronunciation: æd-vent • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. In the Christian tradition, the month before Christmas, beginning the fourth Sunday before the Nativity (Advent Sunday) and observed with prayer and fasting by some, burning Advent candles by others. 2. The first or second coming of Christ. 3. The coming or beginning of something important, as the advent of air travel.
Notes: Advent has but one relative: an Adventist is someone who believes the second coming of Christ is close at hand. This noun could be used as an adjective easily enough, though: an Adventist view of the world.
In Play: The advent of the Internet has made holiday shopping all the easier; you can even send holiday e-cards. So the holiday season is undergoing yet another change, as we are no longer forced to the malls after Thanksgiving. But here at the advent of the holiday season, we might pause to remember the humility and selflessness of the person whose Advent Christians are celebrating.
Word History: This good word obviously came to us from Latin, from adventus "arrival", the part participle of advenire "to come to, to arrive", via the usual French route. The Latin word is made up of ad- "to, toward" + venire "to come." The root of the Latin verb goes back to a time when the Proto-Indo-European people didn't seem to know whether they were coming or going, for the root that gave us venire, gwe(-m)-, became both come and go in English. The [w] that gave Latin the [v] in venire disappeared in English and the [g] became a similar sound, [k]. That gave us come. About the same time the [we] became [o] (notice your lips pucker to pronounce both these sounds) in a variant of the same verb without the suffix [m], hence go.