Printable Version
Pronunciation: hay-day Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: The peak or zenith of something's development, the stage of its greatest popularity, influence, or prosperity, the prime of its life.

Notes: Today's word is a lexical orphan because it started its English life as an interjection, a category notorious for lack of derivations. It was used to indicate high spirits or passion.

In Play: Today's Good Word refers to the history of things: "It's hard to believe that, in its heyday, the glittering city of Las Vegas was known for performances by the 'Rat Pack'." That includes the history of people: "In his heyday, Grandpa could chop a cord of wood in half a day." Ukraine had not reached its heyday but was well on its way to it.

Word History: In Middle English today's Good Word was merely heyda, an interjection of playfulness, cheerfulness, or surprise. It clearly came from a PIE compound interjection, for we find similar words in many Indo-European languages, such as Dutch heidaar "hey there", German heda "hey, eh?, right?", Danish heida "hey there", Swedish hejd "good-bye, so lone", Serbian hajde "come on!" (with the European J pronounced [y]). The first component of the compound also emerged in English hey, ancient Greek eia "hello", German he "hey, eh? Right?", Old French hay (Modern French eh hey, "isn't it?"). Latin hei was a cry of grief, but heia was a joyous interjection. The second component remains a mystery, but it must have started with a [dha], for it reached Middle English as [da] which was transformed by folk etymology into day, even though it is unrelated to the English noun.

Dr. Goodword,

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