Wednesday, April 30, 2014

An Egregious Post

According to my etymologic source, the disapproving sense to the word “egregious”--which is now the predominant use of the word--was not a part of its etymologic origins.

In the 1530s the word was derived from the Latin egregius which was from the phrase ex grege meaning “rise above the flock.” So it is oldest form, egregious was synonymous with “distinguished, excellent, extraordinary.”

Yet the dictionary I use claims that this word means, “extraordinary in some bad way; glaring; flagrant; as in ‘an egregious mistake.’”

(You may take the title of this post however best suits you.)

That etymological info makes me think of a story, as I wonder if there was some wonderful celebrity of the time…who rose above her peers, who was often called egregious. But the sweet fairy tale turned sour. Eventually, she fell into shame—was it love or lust… was it liquor or ego… was it the jealous plotting of another—and how exactly did she bring the word down with her?

You can likely name of a number of modern celebrities who have been praised one minute and were disgraced in the next. Perhaps you can even name a few who are praised for their disgrace. Can you think of any words that have taken on new meaning because of them? Sharing your egregious (extraordinary) examples is encouraged. :)

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