Word of the Day: stygian

Happy Friday! I like today’s word for a couple of reasons. First, it challenged my pronunciation skills. “Y” used as a vowel is one of the many reasons people have qualms with the English language (I think), and this time its trickiness was successful over me.
Second, this is a word you truly should/need/have to understand where its origins are. When just learning the meaning(s), it seems almost like a redundant word because of its 4 seemingly unrelated definitions. For those with more knowledge about Greek mythology, this may not be the case, but it was for me (if you haven’t been reading the Etymology of each Word of the Day, [shame on you] maybe this will inspire you to start). The origins of this word pull the four definitions together, and understanding is achieved.

I wish we could do a couple more weeks of Greek mythology, but I’m sure next week will be just as interesting. Have a great weekend!

stygian (STIJ-ee-uhn)

adjective: 1. dark or gloomy
2. hellish
3. unbreakable or completely binding (said of an oath)
4. relating to the river Styx

In Greek mythology Styx was a river in the underworld over which souls of the dead were ferried by Charon (after whom Pluto’s largest moon is named). Styx was also the river by which oaths were sworn that even gods were afraid to break. The word is from Latin Stygius, from Greek Stygios, from Styx (the hateful). Earliest documented use: 1566

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“And forget about walking into the stygian darkness of the basement.”
Joseph Xavier Martin; Dad’s Spooky Stories Brought Chills, Thrills; Buffalo News (New York); Jul 1, 2015.

“They laboured in Stygian conditions, which would not be tolerated now.”
Gay Byrne; Voices from the Old Schoolyard; Sunday Business Post (Cork, Ireland); Apr 5, 2015.

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