• hippodrome •
hi-pê-drowm • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A stadium for horse or chariot races in ancient Greece and Rome. 2. An arena for equestrian performances. 3. A theatre in which any type of popular entertainment is staged.
Notes: As you can see, this word has nothing to do with hippos and, originally, much to do with horses. We can choose from two adjectives, hippodromic or hippodromatic, both of which have been used in the 21st century.
In Play: Today this Good Word is used mostly in names of theaters and arenas: "Harness racing is very popular in Montreal's Hippodrome." That isn't always the case, though: "As a teenager, Doris honed her equestrian skills by competing in hippodrome shows in Texas and Louisiana."
Word History: English hippodrome is French hippodrome "racecourse, racetrack" undisguised. French inherited it from the Latin version of Greek hippodromos "chariot racecourse" made up of hippos "horse" + dromos "race course". (Hippopotamus comprises hippos + potamos "river" = "river horse".) Greek hippos, believe it or not, was inherited from PIE ekwo- "horse", which is much closer to Latin equus "horse". Greek apparently converted the PIE word to ikkos and somehow the KK became PP. English borrowed two words from Latin based on equus: equine and equestrian. Remnants of dromos may be seen in dromedary "thoroughbred Arabian camel". In late Latin dromedarius (camelus) "runner (camel)" was an adjective made from Greek dromas, dromad- "runner". (Many thanks to Robert Jordan, who contributed this beautiful but rarely used Good Word for today.)
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