• souvenir •
su-vê-nir • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A token of remembrance, a keepsake, a memento, something you keep as a reminder. 2, A memory, an act of remembering.
Notes: Souvenir is a lexical orphan, excepting only that it may be used 'as is' as a verb, as 'to souvenir a trip to Hawaii with a hula doll'. Remember, the [u] sound is spelled OU and that the accent is French, always on the last syllable.
In Play: Souvenirs are usually concrete objects: "He kept the shirt with the lipstick on the collar as a souvenir of his evening with Lucy Lastik". It may be used figuratively, too: "Mable elicits pain in all her friends, a souvenir of all she suffers." Souvenir is used less often as a verb: "Vi Carius always souvenirs the in-room amenities she doesn't use in whatever hotel she stays in on business trips."
Word History: Today's Good Word used to be a French word, souvenir, an Old French noun use of the verb souvenir "to remember, come to mind". French received its word from Latin subvenire "to come to mind", built out of sub "(up from) below, under" + venire "to come". The Latin preposition-prefix sub was handed down from PIE sup- "below, under", probably a reduction of ex- ([eks]) "away from" + upo (out from) under", source also of English up. Venir came from PIE gwa- "to go, come", which went into the making of both English go and come, and German gehen and kommen. We also see traces of it in Lithuanian gimti "to be born, arrive" and Sanskrit ji-ga-ti "goes". (Now, let's all thank our newest contributor, Anna Jung, and one of our oldest, William Hupy, for suggesting today's great Good Word.)
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