Etymology Word of the Week – As some of you know, in addition to working in the Admissions Office, I also teach Latin at Saint Ignatius and am something of a "word nerd." Thus, each week, I’ll sneak a vocabulary word (sometimes derived from Latin, sometimes not) into the e-blast. Here then is this week’s edition of the Etymology Word of the Week.
Panic - “a sudden, overwhelming fear - with or without cause - that produces hysterical or irrational behavior, and that often spreads quickly through a group of animals or people.” From the Greek word Panikon meaning “having to do with Pan.” This word, like surprisingly many in English, comes from the world of Mythology. In this case, Pan was a minor woodland god (often depicted as a faun or satyr, i.e. half-man, half-goat) whose rustlings in the bushes and trees often scared travelers and other passersby. (All information is from www.wikipedia.org, www.etymonline.com and/or www.dictionary.com)
RELATED WORDS/PHRASES – (a few other words that come from Mythology): arachnid, cereal, echo, furious, jovial, museum, narcissism, psychology, siren, tantalize, and zephyr - just to name a few!
BUT NOT - (words with the common prefix “pan-” meaning “all”): pandemic, pantheon, pandemonium, panacea, Pandora, and so on.
SAMPLE SENTENCE - “Who can forget the panic caused on Wall Street when the stock market crashed on ‘Black Monday’ in October of 1987?”
DID YOU KNOW? - The famous J.M. Barrie character (and subsequent Disney legend) “Peter Pan” is influenced by the god Pan - not only in his name and appearance, but also because he often played the flute or pipes in the books. The god Pan was known for playing music (hence, the name of the instrument “the Pan flute” - which had the added bonus of bringing Zamfir to the world’s attention!).