Saturday, November 04, 2006

Because Learning about Words is Fun

Merriam-Webster's word for today:

doyen \DOY-un\ noun

*1 : the senior or most experienced member of a group
2 : the oldest example of a category

Example sentence:
We watched a TV documentary by Jacques Cousteau, the doyen of undersea explorers.

Did you know?
English picked up "doyen" from French in the 17th century. The French term in turn comes from the Late Latin word "decanus," which itself comes from the Greek "dekanos," meaning "chief of ten." A "doyen" can be a leader of a group, such as a diplomatic corps. In this regard, the word has been used to refer to someone who is specifically or tacitly allowed to speak for that group. More broadly, a "doyen" refers to a highly skilled and respected veteran of a particular field. The feminine form of "doyen" is "doyenne."

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.

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