Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-pah-kê-lips Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. (Biblical) The book of Revelation or a group of anonymous texts written between the 2nd century BC and the 2nd century AD, containing prophetic visions of the destruction of the world. 2. Catastrophic destruction such as is described in these books.

Notes: The adjective accompanying today's word is apocalyptic and the adverb, apocalyptically. The belief in the notions of the Apocalypse, in the imminent destruction of the world, is apocalypticism or just apocalyptism. Perhaps the Apocalypse is best known for its famous equestrians, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: pestilence, war, famine, and death, the heralds of the end of the world.

In Play: Although today's word officially may refer to any prophetic revelation, it is most often used to refer to prophesies of doom: "It is difficult to believe that so few foresaw the economic apocalypse that started in 1929." These days, in fact, the word can find a lot of work around the business world, "I hope the out-going president took his apocalyptic vision of the company with him."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Late Latin apocalypsis, borrowed from Greek apokalypsis "revelation, apocalypse" from apokalyptein "to uncover, reveal", comprising apo- "away from" + kalyptein "to cover". The Greek verbal root kalypt- is akin to calypso, the name of the sea nymph who kept Odysseus on her island for seven years during his journey. We also see it in the name of the "good cover", eucalyptus tree. The root, kal-, comes from Proto-Indo-European kel-/kol-/kl- "to cover, conceal", which turns up in English as hall and hell, not to mention two more obvious covers, holster and helmet. Latin color "color" is a cousin, apparently from a time when color was considered a cover.

Dr. Goodword,

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