Printable Version
Pronunciation: tahk-sah-fê-lait Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A devotee of archery, an archery enthusiast, an archery lover.

Notes: Today's word is an odd word because of the suffix -ite on the end. We have a whole series of words meaning "lover of" or "devotee of" containing the Greek word philos "loving, lover", but none with the additional suffix -ite: logophile, Francophile, zoophile. Why the odd suffix? Find out in the Word History. This word may also be used as an adjective; the noun is toxophily.

In Play: Today's Good Word handily replaces the English phrase 'archery lover': "The arrow protruding from the victim's back was a clue to investigators that the perpetrator was a toxophilite." However, remember it may be used adjectivally, too: "Archer Bowman challenged everyone at the garden party to a toxophilite competition in which the winner would get the quiver of the loser, filled with the loser's arrows."

Word History: Roger Ascham's Toxophilus (London 1545) defended archery against the claim that it was not a sport for an educated person. Toxophilite, then, referred originally to a follower of Toxophilus. Ascham created Toxophilus from the Greek words toxon "bow, arrow" + philos "loving, lover". Toxon was also the basis for toxikon "poison", the neuter of toxikos "related to arrows" from when arrows were tipped with poison. The suffix -ite was a common suffix referring to a follower of someone: Luddite, Mennonite, Trotskyite. Toxon was made from PIE tekw-/tokw- "run, flow, hurry". This word shows up in Sanskrit takti "hurries", Persian taxš "bow, arrow" and tak "to run,flow", Russian tech' "to flow" and tok "current", Lithuanian tekėti "to flow", Latvian tecēt "to run, flow", Czech and Serbian tok "a flow", Czech téci "to flow", Albanian ndjek "to pursue", Breton tec'hel "to escape from", and Welsh dianc "to escape". (We should thank Conita Benson, whether toxophile or not, for discovering and recommending today's Good if obscure Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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