• philoxenia •
fi-lahk-see-ni-ê • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: Cordiality, eagerness to show hospitality, to be welcoming.
Notes: We have an Anglicized version of this word, philoxeny, which has the same meaning. Someone who is hospitable and cordial is a philoxenist.
In Play: While this word is rather archaic, it is still useful. Hospitality refers to the character of the reception, not that of the person: "Charity Ball is philoxenia personified; all are welcome in her home." Neither hospitality nor cordiality fits there or here: "Sheridan was amazed at the philoxenia of the Greeks on his visit to that country".
Word History: Greek has a word with two meanings that are very odd fellows; xenos means both "stranger" and "guest". Today's Good Word is a compound noun taken from classical Greek, comprising phil- "love" + xen- "guest" + -ia, an abstract noun suffix. We may interchange the Greek roots of today's compound noun and come up with xenophilia, another legitimate word based on the other meaning of xenos, "love of strange (foreign) things and people". The PIE word that xenos came from, ghost-ti- must have had the same two meanings, for it developed in the Indo-European language family both ways. On the one hand, we find English guest and host and German Gast "guest". On the other, we find Latin hostis "enemy", the ultimate source of the English borrowing hostile. (We owe George Kovac for another catch along the outskirts of the English vocabulary, which he is wont to troll.)
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