Printable Version
Pronunciation: sten-tor-ri-ên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Loud and clear, said mostly of voices.

Notes: In English this word is the adjective for stentor "person with a loud, clear voice". After centuries of competition among stentorian, stentorious, stentoronic, and stentorial, our word seems to walked off with the gold. If you wish to refer to a loud musical instrument, you will have to go with stentorophonic, as 'a stentorophonic trumpet'.

In Play: The use of stentorian is normally restricted to references to voices: "Lawrence was tall and had a stentorian voice that he knew how to use to keep a large corporation running smoothly." Even indirect reference to the voice is OK: "Daniel had developed his stentorian tones singing gospel hymns in church."

Word History: Today's Good Word is unrelated to stent, the eponym of Charles Stent (1807-1885), the inventor of the stent. Stentorian is an eponym from Stentor, the legendary Greek herald in the Trojan War. His voice was described in the Iliad as being as loud as that of 50 men. His name is based on the Greek verb stenein "to groan, moan", from PIE (s)ten-/(s)ton- "to groan", source also of Lithuanian stenėti, Latvian stenet, Danish stønne, German stöhnen, Czech sténat, and Russian stonat'. Without the initial Fickle S, we find Persian tundar "thunder, loud noise", Dutch donder "thunder", German Donner "thunder", Swedish dunder "thunder", and English thunder. (Appreciation is now due our old friend and wordmaster Chris Stewart of South Africa for this, his 107th positively fascinating Good Word since 2005.)

Dr. Goodword,

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