Word of The Day for Wednesday, December 22, 2010


si•mo•ny (SAHY-muh-nee, SIM-uh-)  n

1. the making of profit out of sacred things
2. the sin of buying or selling ecclesiastical preferments, benefices, etc

simonist noun

175–1225; from O.Fr. simonie, from L.L. simonia, from Simon Magus, the Samaritan magician who was rebuked by Peter when he tried to buy the power of conferring the Holy Spirit (Acts viii:18-20)

Sentence Examples:
• He had smiled, perhaps, and shaken his head dubiously, as he heard simple folk talk of a Pope Angelico, who was to come by-and-by and bring in a new order of things, to purify the Church from simony, and the lives of the clergy from scandal—a state of affairs too different from what existed under Innocent the Eighth for a shrewd merchant and politician to regard the prospect as worthy of entering into his calculations.  -Romola, George Eliot

• It was customary for the chapter to lease at a handsome price to seignorial families, and even to rich burghers, the right to be present at the services, themselves and their servants exclusively, in the various lateral chapels of the long side-aisles of the cathedral. This simony is in practice to the present day. -Maitre Cornelius, Honore de Balzac

• Herbert was a prelate of a type that in the early days helped [4]to build up the Church and give her stability. His nature must have been curiously complex; on the one hand, a man of action and with great capability of administration, often justifying his means by the end he had in view, and not being debarred from realising his schemes by any delicate scruples, he yet, on the other hand, presents in his letters a chastened spirituality that is not compatible with the methods he pursued when thinking only of the temporal advantages which might accrue on any certain line of action. But it may be said that his letters appear to date from the later period of his life, and after he had founded the cathedral as an expiation of that sin of simony he appears to have so deeply repented. -Bell's Cathedrals, C. H. B. Quennell

The Storyline
The lack of business weighed on her. She'd even considered paying her brother to pray for the store, excepting it vaguely smacked of simony.

Why This Word:

Simony is the crime of paying for sacraments and consequently for holy offices or positions in the hierarchy of a church, named after Simon Magus, who appears in the Acts of the Apostles 8:18-24. Simon Magus offers the disciples of Jesus, Peter and John payment so that anyone on whom he would place his hands would receive the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the origin of the term simony but it also extends to other forms of trafficking for money in "spiritual things".

Sources: Dictionary.com, Online Etymology, Wikipedia

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

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