Printable Version
Pronunciation: hai-pêr-gê-mi Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: Marrying up, marriage above your station, marriage to someone of a higher caste. Antonym: hypogamy.

Notes: The only words built on the Greek combining form -gamy we use today are monogamy, bigamy, and polygamy. Since bigamy and polygamy are illegal, they are the most talked about. However, there are several others: endogamy "marriage within the local community" and its antonym exogamy. The adjective for hypergamy is hypergamous. Someone committing hypergamy is a hypergamist.

In Play: In rural India, women view hypergamy as an opportunity to modernize, to move from rural India to urban. However, this word can be useful in countries that have no caste system: "June McBride rejected Phil Anders's marriage proposal because she saw it as attempted hypergamy." Trophy wives are usually the results of hypergamy.

Word History: This Good Word seems to have been created from the Greek combining forms hyper "over, above" + gamos "marriage". Hyper is what Greek turned PIE sub "under, below" + upo "up(wards) + -er into. Latin made this combination into super "over, above". English created over out of it, and somehow preserved upo as up. Spanish reduced super to sobre and French reduced it all the way down to sur. Gamos is the noun from gamein "to marry". It came from PIE gem-/gom- "to marry", source also of Greek gambros "son-in-law, father-in-law" and Sanskrit jama "daughter-in-law". Other than this evidence, nothing can be found in the Indo-European languages. (The mysterious Grogie of the Agora recommended hypenemious, which I couldn't find in any etymological dictionary. In search of that word, today's Good Word was suggested by the Onelook dictionary linked to the website.)

Dr. Goodword,

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