Printable Version
Pronunciation: -dêr-day Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, proper

Meaning: The seventh day of the week.

Notes: All the names of weekdays are proper, so don't forget to capitalize them. This word may be used as a verb in the very limited sense of "volunteering to work Saturdays" in the early days of the former Soviet Union. A Saturdayite is the translation of Russian subbotnik, a person who made this patriotic sacrifice.

In Play: Saturday is the first day of the weekend, but when you retire, life becomes an eternal weekend. The days of the retirement week are Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Sunday. We may pluralize this word: "Saturdays I relax, watch television, and snooze off and on."

Word History: In Old English this word developed from sæternesdæg to sæterdæg. The original was a compound noun consisting of Sætern "Saturn" + dæg "day". This phrase was a loan translation of Latin Saturni dies "Saturn's Day", i.e. the day of Saturn, the agricultural god of seeds and sowing. He was equated with the Greek god Cronus. In fact, the Latin phrase was a loan translation of Greek kronou hemera "Cronus's day". Saturn could have been borrowed from Etruscan, a non-PIE language spoken in Italy before Latin. More likely it was based on satus, the past participle of serere "to sow, plant". Serere goes back to a PIE verb seh- "to sow", source also of English seed, Dutch saad, Danish and Norwegian sæd, all meaning "seed". It ended up in Latvian and Lithuanian as sekla "seed", in Russian seyat' "to sow", and Serbian sejeti "to sow". (Today's special Good Word was recommended by our old friend and frequent contributor Monica Freund.)

Dr. Goodword,

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