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Monday, January 01, 2007

January 1: Janus Day

Happy New Year!

On the first day of the year it is appropriate to explore the origins of the name January.

The Roman god Janus was the god of doorways, gates, and portals as well as the god of beginnings. Janus was depicted with two faces, one looking back to the past and one looking toward the future. As we look back on the year that just finished and look forward to the coming year, it becomes clear why Janus became the name-sake of our first month.

As the gatekeeper, Janus is also the source of the word Janitor. If you've been to a school lately you can see the appropriateness of this moniker; long after the students, teachers, and principal go home, there is a faithful janitor making his or her appointed rounds which include make sure doors are locked and secured (1).

Today's Challenge: The Beginning and the End
Ten of the 20 words below relate to beginnings. The remaining words related to endings. See if you can identify how each word relates to either the beginning or the end.

prologue
denouement
finale

fledgling
neophyte
epilogue

inaugurate
omega
initiate
exposition
prelude
alpha
terminate
culminate
terminus
postlude
cessation
genesis
commencement

epitaph

Quote of the Day: This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But, it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. --Winston Churchill

Sources:

1 - Word Histories and Mysteries. (by the editors of American Heritage Dictionaries. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004.

Answers:
Beginnings: prologue, inaugurate, genesis, commencement, initiate, exposition, prelude, alpha, fledgling, neophyte

Endings: epilogue, terminate, culminate, denouement, finale, omega, terminus, postlude, apocalypse, cessation, epitaph

3 comments:

Cyn said...

Happy New Year! interesting blog.

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