Word of The Day for Thursday, October 21, 2010


ar•go•sy (ahr'-guh-see)  n

1. a large merchant vessel, especially one carrying a rich freight
2. fleet of ships, flotilla
3. a rich source or supply
4. a collection of lore
5. anglicism of the Argonautika of Apollonios Rhodios

Synonyms: cornucopia, gold mine, mother lode, treasure trove, wellspring

• The report, compiled by State Department Inspector General J. K. Mansfield, told of an argosy of luxuries and trivia bestowed under AID financing: a $2,111 car for the Japanese embassy in Santo Domingo, a stereophonic hi-fi system for the El Salvador embassy, wine glasses and $10,000 worth of pastel-colored bidets for the Dominican Republic. --Time 1968

• And still she slept an azure-lidded sleep,
In blanched linen, smooth, and lavendered,
While he from forth the closet brought a heap
Of candied apple, quince, and plum, and gourd;
With jellies soother than the creamy curd,
And lucent syrups, tinct with cinnamon;
Manna and dates, in argosy transferred
From Fez; and spiced dainties, every one,
From silken Samarcand to cedared Lebanon.
--John Keats

The Storyline
And Anna thought back to when she first met the boys, the places they introduced her to and the argosy of goods they, the boys and the places, would become for her - for good and for ill.

1570s, from It. (nave) Ragusea "(vessel) of Ragusa," a maritime city on the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic (modern Dubrovnik in Croatia). Their large merchant ships brought rich Eastern goods to 16c. England.

Sources: Century Dictionary, Wordnik, Merriam-Webster, Online Etymology

Why This Word:
From distant shores and past comes a word full meaning and history. Argosy transferred the meaning from the port of origin to the ships that came from that port to the goods that came off the ships. It's easy to imagine the magic and possibilities conjured up by the argosy, the large ships from far away with their exotic goods, and the lore that went with it. Arrrrr.

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

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