Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Etymology: Word History


The word comes from the name of Venus. Venus, a god, whose name means love, charm, adorn, and to worship.  Venus was known for creating a love potion which she used to help Aeneas escape from the burning city of Troy.   She protected him from the enmity of Juno.  She made Dido, queen of Carthage, fall in love with him and grant him refuge at a time when Aeneas's had his back against the wall. Venom became malicious over time and became a word that means a malicious deadly drink.   As Edgar Allan Poe wrote:
And pride, what have I now with thee? Another brow may ev'n inherit The venom thou hast poured on me Be still my spirit!

The Google NGRAM viewer shows this word was most popular in  the period between 1910 and 1920.  

Interesting articles outside of the usual ones about Plants, Spiders, and Snakes was the Weekly World News which reported that Snake Venom could be used to prevent brain damage.   Read it here.

Grant. Michael and John Hazel Who's Who Classical Mythology  (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 141-142.

The Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories ( Miriam Webster Inc., 1991), 492.

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