Printable Version
Pronunciation: hord Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A huge, disorganized throng. 2. A group of nomadic families living together or in close proximity, a basic social unit, especially in Central Asia. 3. An enormous amount or number.

Notes: This word should not be confused with its homophone, hoard "to selfishly squirrel away in vast amounts". Horde comes with no lexical family and only one spelling caveat: don't forget the silent E on the end.

In Play: This word is most often used in hyperboles like this one: "The wedding dress, once bought, was protected from male view by a horde of female relatives." However, in the sense of simply "many" it may refer to anything: "When Henry, the editor-in-chief at Humpty House Publishers, returned from vacation, he found a horde of manuscripts on his desk."

Word History: Today's Good Word originated in some Turkic language like Tartar (urda "horde") or Turkish (ordu "army, military"). The official language of Pakistan is Urdu, borrowed from the Turkish word. In Urdu, urdu means "camp". In the Slavic languages it appears with and without the initial H, as in and Russian orda, but Czech and Serbian horda. Polish has both orda and horda. The H appears in all Germanic languages: Danish and Dutch horde, German Horde, and Swedish hord. It also appears in most of the Romance languages: French horde and Portuguese and Spanish horda, except Italian, which doesn't allow initial H: orda. The word seems to have pervaded the western Indo-European languages but not the eastern ones. The first preserved appearance of the word with initial H in print was in German (1429), but how and why it came about is anyone's guess. (Now let's show Rob Towart a horde of gratitude for today's enormously Good Word, his 115th since 2010.)

Dr. Goodword,

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