Printable Version
Pronunciation: fi-li-pik Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, noun

Meaning: 1. (Adjective: capitalized Philippic) Related to the ancient city of Philippi, Macedonia. 2. (Adjective) Pertaining to a tirade, rant, vicious condemnation. 3. (Noun) Diatribe, jeremiad, tirade, bitter condemnation.

Notes: The reason we sometimes spell Philip with a double L, (Phillip) could be that we can always remember this word has a double consonant in the middle, but have trouble remembering which one. You may extend this word by the empty suffix -al should you need an extra syllable, but you must use this suffix for the adverb, philippically. It comes with a verb, too: philippicize.

In Play: As an adjective, today's word might be heard in expressions like this: "The philippic pith of the oration was couched in an analogy of wives and prostitutes so convoluted as to leave even the smartest crawling for the nearest vodka." As a noun, it might be used thus: "One of the political parties has submerged itself in such philippics as to drive it away from reality."

Word History: Today's Good Word is an eponym that goes back to the Greek phrase, 'Philippikoi logoi' "Philippic speech" referring to a series of orations (351-341 BC) by Demosthenes urging Greeks to awaken to the danger of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. The name Philip was Philippos, originally "horse fancier", comprising philo(s) "(be)loved, dear" + hippos "horse". Philos came from PIE bhilo- "friendly, harmonious", found also in Irish bailí "good, valid". It didn't survive any of the other middle languages. Ancient Greeks somehow twisted PIE ekwos "horse" into hippos. Latin left the PIE word alone for its equus "horse". In Sanskrit it emerged as asvaa "horse" and in Old English it arose as eoh "horse". (A note of gratitude is now due Great Grand Panjandrum Larry Brady for suggesting today's fascinating Good Word back in 2006, the year he joined our happy band of contributors.)

Dr. Goodword,

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