Word of The Day for Monday, November 8, 2010


tan•tiv•y (tan-TIV-ee)

1. at full gallop
2. swift, rapid
3. a gallop, rush
4. the blare of a trumpet or horn
5. used as a hunting cry when the chase is at full speed

Synonyms: swift, rapid, rushed, rush

Sentence Examples:
• Then Jack placed the horn to his mouth, and blew with all his might such a loud tantivy, that the Giant awoke and rushed towards Jack, exclaiming: “You saucy villain, why are you come here to disturb my rest? you shall pay dearly for this. I will take you home, and broil you whole for my breakfast.”  -The Story of Jack and the Giants

• He was of a nature to ride tantivy into anything that promised excitement or adventure. -Australia Felix, Henry Handel Richardson

• Friar John began to paw, neigh, and whinny at the snout's end, as one ready to leap, or at least to play the ass, and get up and ride tantivy to the devil like a beggar on horseback.  -Gargantua And His Son Pantagruel, Francis Rabelais

The Storyline
Not that she had much choice as her mother was rambling on tantivy about her brother's trip.

1635–45; origin uncertain, perhaps imitative of galloping hooves

Sources: Dictionary.com

Why This Word:

Although its precise origin isn't known, one theory has it that "tantivy" represents the sound of a galloping horse's hooves. The noun does double duty as a word meaning "the blare of a trumpet or horn." The second use probably evolved from confusion with "tantara," a word for the sound of a trumpet that came about as an imitation of that sound. Both "tantivy" and "tantara" were used during foxhunts; in the heat of the chase people may have jumbled the two.
It's interesting that both uses of the word possibly are instances of onomonopia. I'm going to hazard another guess though. It starts with the trumpet sound which was imitated with tantara and/or perhaps even tantivy. That became a hunting call - calling for the trumpet to sound. And then that became synonymous or associated with being at full gallop. Tantivy was some regional variation of that somewhere in the process. This, of course, is pure speculation on my part. But it does seem at least plausible to me that it started with the horn blowing in the hunt and that these words came from that and then became associated with going at full gallop.

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