• avenue •
æ-vin-yu • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A street, especially a special one, but not as wide as a boulevard. 2. A street running orthogonally to those named "X Street" in a city laid out on a grid. 3. A road, street, or path lined with trees, as 'an avenue of poplars'. 4. An approach to a problem, a way of progressing to a solution.
Notes: Avenue is just another name for street, unless the street is special, like 'Fifth Avenue', where Irving Berlin's "Easter Parade" once took place. It comes with a seldom used adjective, avenued, meaning "lined, lined up", as 'an avenued copse of dogwood trees'.
In Play: Avenue is usually saved for the names of special streets: "Lady Audley loved to shop on the broad avenues of Kifissia with their open-top cars, lined with top-drawer boutiques like Louis Vuitton and Gucci." Metaphorically, it is used to refer to any way to an end: "The chief of the police promised to explore all avenues for a solution to the problem of chewing gum on the sidewalks of New Monia."
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Old French avenue "act of approaching, arrival", the noun use of the feminine form of avenu "arrived", the past participle of avenir "to come to, arrive". Old French inherited this word from Latin advenire "to come to, reach, arrive at", comprising ad "(up) to" + venire "to come". Latin inherited venire from a suffixed form of PIE root gwa-/gwem- "to go, come", also the source of English come. We find jigati "goes" in Sanskrit from a suffixed form of the same PIE word, and gāju "I went" in Latvian. (Now let's give a bow to Tony Bowden of London for seeing the prospects of today's surprisingly Good Word and sharing it with us.)
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