Monday, 21 July 2008

A.W.A.D. - Words Related to Royalty

Royalty -- an outdated idea. Kings and queens, princes and princesses mostly appear in fairy tales now, and that's exactly where they belong. Most of the world did away with them long ago. Others, such as the citizens of Nepal recently, are realizing that having someone appointed as the head of a country just because he or she was born in a certain family makes about as much sense as fire-breathing dragons and gold-spinning maidens.

Well, what would happen to the publishing world without them, one might ask. Sure, the royals do help the tabloid industry, but in their absence we can count on Paris Hilton and Michael Jackson to fill the vacuum. As a service to humanity, they would selflessly agree to ratchet up their daily quota of antics. And they would do it without being a burden on the taxpayers.

The only species of monarchs I support is the monarch butterfly. Monarchy deserves to be extinct. In the meantime this week let's look at five terms related to royalty.

magna carta
PRONUNCIATION: (MAG-nuh KAHR-tuh)
MEANING: noun: A document or a law recognizing basic rights and privileges.

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin magna carta (great charter). After Magna Carta, a charter of political and civil liberties that King John of England was forced to sign on June 15, 1215. It was revised several times over the years, and it became an important symbol, establishing for future generations that there were limits to the royal powers.

royal we
PRONUNCIATION:(ROI-uhl wee)
MEANING: noun: The first-person plural pronoun used by a king or queen to refer to himself or herself, for example, "We are not amused," a line attributed to Queen Victoria. As it's often used by newspaper editors, the term is also known as the "editorial we". Mark Twain once said, "Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial 'we'."
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin nos (we). The practice of using "we" to refer to oneself is called nosism.

morganatic
PRONUNCIATION:(mor-guh-NAT-ik)
MEANING: adjective: Of or relating to a marriage between two people of different social ranks such that the spouse of lower rank and the children do not share the titles or possessions of the higher-ranking spouse.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin matrimonium ad morganaticam (marriage with a morning gift), implying that the gift given on the morning after the marriage was the only gift received by the wife. It was also known as a left-handed marriage because the groom held his bride's hand with his left (instead of right) hand. The word is of Germanic origin (morgen: morning, e.g. guten morgen: good morning). From a word for 'morning' to a word for a kind of marriage, that's an example of the idiosyncratic ways languages evolve.

king's ransom
PRONUNCIATION:(kingz RAN-suhm)
MEANING: noun: A very large sum of money.

ETYMOLOGY: From the reference to the large sum required to secure the release of a king from captivity.

queen regnant
PRONUNCIATION:(kween REG-nuhnt)
MEANING: noun: A queen reigning in her own right, as opposed to one having a royal title by marriage. Also known as queen regent.

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin regnare (reign). Ultimately from the Indo-European root reg- (to move in a straight line, to lead or rule) that is also the source of regime, direct, rectangle, erect, rectum, alert, source, and surge. The wife of a ruling king is known as a queen consort. The husband of a queen regnant would be a king consort, though usually he is called a prince. A queen ruling during the youth, disability, or absence of a monarch is known as a queen regent.

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