Printable Version
Pronunciation: êrth Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. The third planet from the sun in the Solar System, the only planet in the universe known to support life. 2. (Uncapitalized: earth) 2. Soil, dirt, the cultivatable outer crust of Earth. 3. (UK) An animal burrow or electrical connection to the ground (US ground).

Notes: Big Blue MarbleApril 22 is Earth Day, a day focused on preserving the health of our planet, the Mother Earth. Earth Day was established in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. He announced it at an environmental teach-in April 22 and that day became the date of the annual celebration every year since. President George Bush made it a national holiday in 1990. Things made from earth are earthen, which is why pottery is sometimes called earthenware. An earthy thing smells of the earth; an earthy person is lusty and uninhibited if not sensual, you know, like the chanteuse of the 50s and 60s Eartha Kitt, whose name only emphasized the earthiness of her singing style.

In Play: We all have our own ways of celebrating Earth Day: "Dewey Rose loves to work in his garden on Earth Day because its earthy aromas remind him of all we owe the Good Mother of us all." Some are more pertinent than others: "Ally Katz took Ivan Oder out to lunch today because on Earth Day she enjoys doing something nice for a clod."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a rarity: a purely English word. It is a descendant of Old English eorðe "ground, soil, dry land," and is also used to distinguish the material world from the firmament in such phrases as "earthly riches" and "earthly pursuits". The English word is kissing cousins with German Erde and Dutch aarde, all sharing the same meaning. You may recognize the Dutch word aarde in aardvark. This word comes from a language closely related to Dutch spoken in South Africa, Afrikaans. It is a compound made up of aard "earth, ground" + vark "pig".

Dr. Goodword,

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