• paraclete •
pæ-rê-kleet • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. The Holy Spirit as a consoler, a comforter. 2. Any person who consoles, comforts, or intercedes for another.
Notes: According to the Apostle John, Jesus sent the Paraclete from His Father to comfort the disciples when He left them. It has traditionally been assumed that this Paraclete is the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost). For this reason, the word is capitalized when used in its sacred sense. However, since the New Testament was written, the meaning of the word has expanded to anyone who supports, defends, or comforts someone else.
In Play: We hear this word most often in its spiritual sense: "Harvey Wallbanger appealed to the Paraclete for spiritual sustenance every time he went on the wagon." We should not leave its secular sense behind, though: "Clara Sill became an important paraclete of Beryl during puberty, when she developed a serious case of acne."
Word History: English borrowed this word from Old French paraclet, the remains of Latin paracletus, itself borrowed from Greek parakletos "defender, comforter". The Greek word was derived from the verb parakalein "to invoke", made up of the prefix para- "to the side of" + kalein, kle- "to call". The Greek root goes back to an older verb meaning "to call, shout out". It came through Old Germanic directly to Old English as hlowan "to roar", which today is the verb low, the sounds cows and other bovines make. It is difficult to make the case that English call comes from the same root despite the sound and meaning similarities. Still, these similarities comprise a very suspicious coincidence.
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