Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Word of the Day from M-W: palmary \PAL-muh-ree or PAHL-muh-ree\
outstanding, best

English speakers have been using "palmary" since the 1600s, and its history stretches back even further than that. It was the ancient Romans who first used their "palmarius" to describe someone or something extraordinary. "Palmarius" literally translates as "deserving the palm." But what does that mean exactly? Was it inspired by palms of hands coming together in applause? That would be a good guess, but the direct inspiration for "palmarius" was the palm leaf given to a victor in a sports
competition. That other palm, the one on the hand, is loosely related. The Romans thought the palm tree's leaves resembled an outstretched palm of the hand; they thus used their word "palma" for both meanings, just as we do with "palm" in English.

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