Printable Version
Pronunciation: bêrth-day Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. The day on which someone was born. 2. The anniversary or annual celebration of that day.

Notes: Today's word is an absolute lexical orphan: no relatives at all. So, I will have to find something else to talk about here. Did you know that some Russians celebrate annually their name day? The Russians take their father's last name, and their middle name is the first name of their father (Andrey Ivanovich means "Andrey, son of Ivan"). Russian believers have no choice in a first name, either. The Orthodox Church keeps a calendar with the names of all the Saints assigned a day, and if you were born on Saint Andrey's day, your name was predestined to be "Andrey". Hence, believers annually celebrate their name days (imeniny).

In Play: Our birthday clothes are the clothes we were born in; in other words, none: "Let's go skinny-dipping in our birthday clothes." Some of us celebrate birthdays with parties, complete with birthday presents and a birthday cake: "For Izzy Badenov's 30th birthday party his wife arranged for a birthday cake whose top popped open and 30 frogs jumped out."

Word History: Birthday is obviously a compound noun comprising two words birth + day. Birth was born of the same source as born, an original root, bher-, which meant "to carry" and "bear (a child)". In fact, the English verb bear is a remnant of the same PIE word. The Scots English and northern English dialects' word bairn "child" comes out of the same word. The [bh] became F initially in Latin, so the Latin verb ferre "to carry", whence English ferry, shares the same origin. English day originated as dæg in Old English, closer to its Danish, Swedish, and Dutch cousins dag than day. The word daisy comes from the Old English dæges eage "day's eye". (Let's all now wish David McWethy a belated "Happy Birthday"; today's Good Word was a present to all of us. We should also congratulate David for his promotion to "Lexiterian" from "Junior Lexiterian" in the Agora.)

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!