Printable Version
Pronunciation: ef-ê-jee Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A likeness, image, or representation.

Notes: The only form related to this word that you need to worry about is the plural, effigies, which substitutes IE for the final Y. This word is heard most often in the idiomatic phrase, in effigy, as 'to hang or burn someone in effigy'. This means to hang or burn a full-size image of that person in protest of some perceived wrongdoing.

In Play: Any kind of representation, sculpture or picture, is an effigy: "Someone painted an effigy of a jackass on the office door of the principal." Effigies for hanging or burning as a protest are usually crude manikins made by stuffing clothing and attaching an effigy of the victim's face at the top: "The next day an effigy of the principal was hanged in the parking lot." We may also say that the principal was hanged in effigy in the parking lot.

Word History: Today's Good Word was originally French effigie, a word inherited from Latin effigies "a likeness". English changed the final French suffix -ie to -y in keeping with its tendency to do so in other borrowed words. The Latin word came from the verb effingere "to portray", made up of ex- "from" + fingere "to shape". Fingere, believe it or not, is unrelated to English finger. Finger comes from the old root meaning "five", the same one that produced Greek pente "five", seen in pentagon and pentathlon. The root that turned into Latin fingere originally began with a D and emerged directly in the Germanic languages without the Fickle N. In English we see it today as dough. (We have no effigy of Mare Knoblauch, so we will have to thank her for suggesting today's Good Word without a picture of her in our minds.)

Dr. Goodword,

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