• agora •
æ-gê-rê • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: The agora was the place in ancient Greece cities where people gathered to talk, shop, socialize, and to listen to political speeches.
Notes: I thought we had already published this word back when we inaugurated our Alpha Agora, our meeting place for the discussion of language and words. Apparently, we didn't, since no trace of it shows up in our database. This word takes us back to Attic Greece, where Western word study began and wherefrom a large number of English words was borrowed (such as agoraphobia). The plural is agorae or agoras.
In Play: We hope to infuse the word agora with new life. The best source of information on language is our Alpha Agora. It is the meeting place for web-footed word nerds and normals, the uptown marketplace of linguistic ideas. However, any good university is an intellectual agora, and your house could be the social agora of your neighborhood or town. (If it is, tell all your guests about our Good Word series and the Alpha Agora.)
Word History: Today's Good Word is Greek agora "marketplace" itself, the noun from ageirein "to assemble". The Greek word also underlies category from Greek kategorein "to predicate, accuse" comprising kata "down, against" + agoreuein "to speak in public, speak against" from agora. The original Proto-Indo-European root, (ê)ger-, lost its initial vowel in Latin and the Germanic languages. In the former, it turns up in grex, gregis "herd", found in the English borrowings aggregate, congregation, and segregate. It came through ancient Germanic to English with the suffix -m, as we see in cram.
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