Here’s a word from the ages. Its opening ae – originally (and often still) a digraph (æ) – bespeaks a Latin origin, but if you go for that, the Greek will get your goat: it originally comes from Greek aigis, referring to a shield or breastplate of Zeus or Athena, with a gorgon’s head in the middle, and it’s thought that aigis comes from aix, “goat,” because of a type of shield made of goatskin. But just as we no longer make shields of goatskin, we no longer make aegis sound similar to I guess; now, thanks to vowel shifting and a palatalization of the velar, it’s more akin acoustically to the Irish English eejits (which is idiots pronounced as though it were written in Irish Gaelic). Ah, geez! And the watchful eye, fortunately, is now not that of Zeus, Athena, or a gorgon; it might be that of an elder, if that’s not ageist, but it can be the auspices of any organization or authority, be it sage, aggie, or even Regis. If you know this word, you probably know the two words that usually come before it and the one that usually comes after it: under the aegis of… If you’re a weaponry buff, you may also know that it’s the name of an integrated weapon system used by the US Navy on some destroyers and cruisers. Which seems rather a return to the gorgonizing eye. But not, I hope, to the goat.
Be a patron!Support Sesquiotica and get extra premium content and goodies. Starts as low as $1 a month! Find out more and subscribe on Patreon.com
I am for hireI earn my living as an independent editor, writer, and educator. Find out more and contact me at jamesharbeck.com.
Buy the T-shirt (or coffee mug or hip flask)
Wear it proudly:
I operate on a NEED-TO-KNOW basis. I need to know EVERYTHING.
Buy it at cafepress.ca/sesquiphernalia
12 Gifts for Writers ebook – free download
Buy my books
Buy my books on Lulu.com:
- Confessions of a Word Lush (paperback)
- Confessions of a Word Lush (ebook)
- Songs of Love and Grammar (paperback)
- Songs of Love and Grammar (ebook)
- 12 Gifts for Writers (print edition)
You can also get them on Amazon.com. Please note that I make less than half as much per book if you buy them there, however.
Word Tasting Notes Google groupGet just the word tasting notes daily by email – join the Google Word Tasting Notes group.
- 365 words for drunk
- I plight thee my troth
- obnoxion, obnoxity, obnoxiety, obnoxicity, obnoxy, obnoxiosity, obnoxiousness
- confident in or about?
- Etymology in dire straits
- An article title, "An article title 'An article title needs commas' needs commas," needs commas
- Pronunciation tip: Canada’s provinces, territories, and main cities
- turn the other cheek
- Coffice Space
- from the bookshelf
- language and linguistics
- new old words
- Poetry Minute and a Half
- pronunciation tips
- sentence tastings
- The Week
- Word Country
- word pictures
- word portraits
- word reviews
- word sommelier
- word tasting notes