• Geronimo •
jÍ-rah-nÍ-mo • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Proper Noun, Interjection
Meaning: The name of an Apache rebel actually used most often as an interjection of exultation, uttered on the brink of a great leap or other courageous or life-threatening act.
Notes: Because today's word began as a proper noun borrowed from Spanish (see Word History), it has no derivational family in English. As an exclamation it is used alone before a sentence explaining the jump it salutes or before a jump itself.
In Play: Today's word is most closely associated with making a perilous jump, "The members of the Penguin Club approached the ice hole in their swim suits, yelled, 'Geronimo!' and jumped into the icy water." It is applicable to any momentous plunge, however, "Marley said 'Geronimo!' and signed the papers acquiring the little-known company, hoping it was the right decision."
Word History: Gerůnimo is the Spanish form of the name Jerome, from the Greek, hieronomos "sacred name" (compare hieroglyphics "sacred writing"). It was given to the Chiricahua Apache leader, Goyathlay "he who yawns, yawner" (1829-1909) by European settlers along the US frontier. Goyathlay led a series of raids against Mexican and American settlements in the Southwest in protest of US policy forcing Native Americans onto reservations. Geronimo's name was adopted at the paratrooper school of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina around 1940 as an expression of their emotion upon leaping from a plane. Geronimo was probably chosen in homage to a scene in a movie depicting the Apache leader making a daring leap to escape pursuit of the US cavalry.
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