Tag Archives: callipygian

kallipyg

I’ve been biking quite a bit this summer, and running too, and while this is unlikely to make a kallipyg of me, one can but hope. My wife, like pretty much all lifelong high-level figure skaters, is a noteworthy kallipyg. One need not be athletic to be a kallipyg, but it seldom hurts.

It is not always easy to judge whether a person is a kallipyg. It depends on the clothing they’re wearing, but more particularly it depends on the angle you see them from. If you can see their face, for instance, you are probably not in a position to judge whether they are a kallipyg.

Does this word look like somehow it’s been cut off? It has not. Does it make you think of a pygmy? It has nothing to do with pygmies (except for inasmuch as any among them may be kallipygs, which some probably are, but not because they are pygmies). Perhaps a calliope? No, though a kallipyg may be music to the eyes of some. And the connection between kalli and calli is well made: they both come from Ancient Greek κάλλος kallos, ‘beauty’.

Some of you will see the meaning of this word coming by now. But all of you have seen it going. The pyg, you see, is from Greek πυγή pugé, ‘buttocks’. I think many of you know the word callipygian, which means ‘having beautiful buttocks’. It comes from an epithet for Aphrodite: καλλίπυγος, an adjective meaning ‘callipygian’ which, as a substantive used as an epithet, could be rendered as “sweetcheeks” or “the one with the nice bum.” (“You know, Aphrodite, the one with the buns.”)

Well, kallipyg is a rather less common word, but it comes from the same source, and it’s a noun for a callipygian person. If you want to say it out loud, the stress is on the beginning – although we could say the weight is on the end.