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MW:mythology words

MW:mythology words

Last update 

Words from Mythology and History, Greek and Latin Borrowings, Animal Words

Items (160)

  • cicerone

    A guide, especially one who takes tourists to museums, monuments, or architectural sites and explains what is being seen.

  • hector

    To bully or harass by bluster or personal pressure.

  • hedonism

    An attitude or way of life based on the idea that pleasure or happiness should be the chief goal.

  • nestor

    A senior figure or leader in one's field.

  • spartan

    Marked by simplicity, avoidance of luxury, and often strict self-discipline or self-denial.

  • stentorian

    Extremely loud, often with especially deep richness of sound.

  • stoic

    Seemingly indifferent to pleasure or pain.

  • sybaritic

    Marked by a luxurious or sensual way of life.

  • Apollonian

    Harmonious, ordered, rational, calm.

  • bacchanalian

    Frenzied, orgiastic.

  • delphic

    Unclear, ambiguous, or confusing.

  • Dionysian

    Frenzied, delirious.

  • jovial

    Jolly, good-natured.

  • mercurial

    Having rapid and unpredictable changes of mood.

  • Olympian

    Lofty, superior, and detached.

  • venereal

    Having to do with sexual intercourse or diseases transmitted by it.

  • ad hoc

    Formed or used for a particular purpose or for immediate needs.

  • ad hominem

    Marked by an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the arguments made or the issues raised.

  • alter ego

    (1) A trusted friend or personal representative. (2) The opposite side of a personality.

  • de facto

    Being such in practice or effect, although not formally recognized; actual.

  • quid pro quo

    Something given or received for something else.

  • ex post facto

    Done, made, or formulated after the fact.

  • modus operandi

    A usual way of doing something.

  • modus vivendi

    (1) A practical compromise or arrangement that is acceptable to all concerned. (2) A way of life.

  • calypso

    A folk song or style of singing of West Indian origin that has a lively rhythm and words that are often made up by the singer.

  • odyssey

    (1) A long, wandering journey full of trials and adventures. (2) A spiritual journey or quest.

  • palladium

    A precious, silver-white metal related to platinum that is used in electrical contacts and as an alloy with gold to form white gold.

  • Penelope

    A modest domestic wife.

  • procrustean

    Ruthlessly disregarding individual differences or special circumstances.

  • protean

    (1) Displaying great versatility or variety. (2) Able to take on many different forms or natures.

  • sibyl

    A female prophet or fortune-teller.

  • siren

    A woman who tempts men with bewitching sweetness.

  • a fortiori

    All the more certainly.

  • a posteriori

    Relating to or derived by reasoning from known or observed facts.

  • a priori

    Relating to or derived by reasoning from self-evident propositions.

  • bona fide

    (1) Made in good faith, without deceit. (2) Authentic or genuine.

  • carpe diem

    Enjoy the pleasures or opportunities of the moment without concern about the future.

  • caveat emptor

    Let the buyer beware.

  • corpus delicti

    (1) The substantial and basic fact or facts necessary to prove that a crime has been committed. (2) The material substance, such as the murdered body, on which a crime has been committed.

  • curriculum vitae

    A short summary of one's career and qualifications, typically prepared by an applicant for a position; résumé.

  • Augean stable

    A condition or place marked by great accumulation of filth or corruption.

  • Croesus

    A very rich person.

  • Hades

    The underground home of the dead in Greek mythology.

  • lethargic

    (1) Lazily sluggish. (2) Indifferent or apathetic.

  • Midas touch

    The talent for making money in every venture.

  • Pyrrhic victory

    A victory won at excessive cost.

  • stygian

    Extremely dark, dank, gloomy, and forbidding.

  • arcadia

    A region or setting of rural pleasure and peacefulness.

  • Cassandra

    A person who predicts misfortune or disaster.

  • cyclopean

    Huge or massive.

  • draconian

    Extremely severe or cruel.

  • myrmidon

    A loyal follower, especially one who executes orders unquestioningly.

  • nemesis

    A powerful, frightening opponent or rival who is usually victorious.

  • Trojan horse

    Someone or something that works from within to weaken or defeat.

  • aeolian harp

    A box-shaped instrument with strings that produce musical sounds when the wind blows on them.

  • cynosure

    (1) A guide. (2) A center of attention.

  • laconic

    Using extremely few words.

  • mnemonic

    Having to do with the memory; assisting the memory.

  • platonic

    (1) Relating to the philosopher Plato or his teachings. (2) Involving a close relationship from which romance and sex are absent.

  • sapphic

    (1) Lesbian. (2) Relating to a poetic verse pattern associated with Sappho.

  • Socratic

    Having to do with the philosopher Socrates or with his teaching method, in which he systematically questioned the student in conversation in order to draw forth truths.

  • solecism

    (1) A grammatical mistake in speaking or writing. (2) A blunder in etiquette or proper behavior.

  • arachnid

    A member of the class Arachnida, which principally includes animals with four pairs of legs and no antennae, such as spiders, scorpions, mites, and ticks.

  • calliope

    A musical instrument similar to an organ in which whistles are sounded by steam or compressed air.

  • dryad

    A wood nymph.

  • fauna

    Animal life, especially the animals that live naturally in a given area or environment.

  • flora

    Plant life, especially the flowering plants that live naturally in a specific area or environment.

  • herculean

    (1) Extremely strong. (2) Extremely extensive, intense, or difficult.

  • Scylla and Charybdis

    Two equally dangerous alternatives.

  • cereal

    (1) A plant that produces grain that can be eaten as food, or the grain it produces. (2) The food made from grain.

  • Junoesque

    Having mature, poised, and dignified beauty.

  • martial

    Having to do with war and military life.

  • Promethean

    New or creative in a daring way.

  • Sisyphean

    Endless and difficult, involving many disappointments.

  • titanic

    Having great size, strength, or power; colossal.

  • Triton

    (1) A being with a human upper body and the lower body of a fish; a merman. (2) Any of various large mollusks with a heavy, conical shell.

  • vulcanize

    To treat crude or synthetic rubber or plastic so that it becomes elastic and strong and resists decay.

  • muse

    A source of inspiration; a guiding spirit.

  • iridescent

    Having a glowing, rainbowlike play of color that seems to change as the light shifts.

  • mausoleum

    (1) A large tomb, especially one built aboveground with shelves for the dead. (2) A large, gloomy building or room.

  • mentor

    A trusted counselor, guide, tutor, or coach.

  • narcissism

    (1) Extreme self-centeredness or fascination with oneself. (2) Love or desire for one's own body.

  • tantalize

    To tease or torment by offering something desirable but keeping it out of reach.

  • thespian

    An actor.

  • zephyr

    (1) A breeze from the west. (2) A gentle breeze.

  • aquiline

    (1) Relating to eagles. (2) Curving like an eagle's beak.

  • asinine

    Foolish, brainless.

  • bovine

    (1) Relating to cows and oxen. (2) Placid, dull, unemotional.

  • canine

    Relating to dogs or the dog family; doglike.

  • feline

    (1) Relating to cats or the cat family. (2) Like a cat in being sleek, graceful, sly, treacherous, or stealthy.

  • leonine

    Relating to lions; lionlike.

  • porcine

    Relating to pigs or swine; piglike.

  • vulpine

    (1) Relating to foxes; foxlike. (2) Sneaky, clever, or crafty; foxy.

  • apiary

    A place where bees are kept for their honey.

  • caper

    (1) A playful leap. (2) A prank or mischievous adventure.

  • equestrian

    Of or relating to horseback riding.

  • lupine

    Like a wolf; wolfish.

  • ovine

    Of, relating to, or resembling sheep.

  • ornithologist

    A person who studies birds.

  • serpentine

    Like a snake or serpent in shape or movement; winding.

  • simian

    Having to do with monkeys or apes; monkeylike.

  • in memoriam

    In memory of.

  • magnum opus

    A great work, especially the greatest achievement of an artist, composer, or writer.

  • memento mori

    A reminder of mortality, especially a human skull symbolizing death.

  • habeas corpus

    An order to bring a jailed person before a judge or court to find out if that person should really be in jail.

  • rigor mortis

    The temporary rigidity of muscles that sets in after death.

  • sine qua non

    An essential thing.

  • tabula rasa

    (1) The mind in its blank or unmarked state before receiving any impressions from outside. (2) Something existing in its original pure state.

  • terra incognita

    An unexplored country or field of knowledge.

  • acme

    Highest point; summit, peak.

  • catharsis

    A cleansing or purification of the body, emotions, or spirit.

  • colossus

    (1) A gigantic statue. (2) A person or thing that resembles such a statue in size or activity or influence.

  • detritus

    Loose material that results from disintegration; debris.

  • hoi polloi

    The general population; the masses.

  • kudos

    (1) Fame and renown that result from an achievement; prestige. (2) Praise.

  • onus

    A disagreeable necessity or obligation; responsibility.

  • stigma

    A mark of shame: stain.

  • ambrosia

    (1) The food of the Greek and Roman gods. (2) Something extremely pleasant to taste or smell.

  • dogma

    (1) Something treated as established and accepted opinion. (2) A principle or set of principles taught by a religious organization.

  • gratis

    Without charge; free.

  • eureka

    An exclamation used to express triumph and delight on a discovery.

  • per se

    By, of, or in itself; as such.

  • opus

    A creative work, especially a musical composition or set of compositions numbered in order of publication.

  • impetus

    (1) A driving force or impulse; something that makes a person try or work hard; incentive. (2) Momentum.

  • thesis

    (1) An opinion or proposition that a person presents and tries to prove by argument. (2) An extended paper that contains the results of original research, especially one written by a candidate for an academic degree.

  • apologia

    A defense, especially of one's own ideas, opinions, or actions.

  • atrium

    (1) An open rectangular patio around which a house is built. (2) A court with a skylight in a many-storied building.

  • oligarchy

    A government in which power is in the hands of a small group.

  • encomium

    Glowing, enthusiastic praise, or an expression of such praise.

  • neurosis

    A mental and emotional disorder that is less severe than a psychosis and may involve various pains, anxieties, or phobias.

  • opprobrium

    (1) Something that brings disgrace. (2) A public disgrace that results from conduct considered wrong or bad.

  • referendum

    (1) The referring of legislative measures to the voters for approval or rejection. (2) A vote on such a measure.

  • ultimatum

    A final proposal, condition, or demand, especially one whose rejection will result in forceful action.

  • aegis

    (1) Something that protects or defends; shield. (2) Sponsorship or guidance by an individual or organization.

  • charisma

    (1) An extraordinary gift for leadership that attracts popular support and enthusiasm. (2) A special ability to attract or charm; magnetism.

  • ego

    (1) A sense of confidence and satisfaction in oneself; self-esteem. (2) An exaggerated sense of self-importance.

  • ethos

    The features, attitudes, moral code, or basic beliefs that define a person, a group, or an institution.

  • hubris

    Unreasonable or unjustified pride or self-confidence.

  • id

    The part of a person's unconscious mind that relates to basic needs and desires.

  • libido

    (1) Sexual drive. (2) In psychoanalytic theory, energy that is derived from primitive biological urges and is usually goal-oriented.

  • trauma

    (1) A serious injury to the body. (2) An abnormal psychological state caused by mental or emotional stress or physical injury.

  • Adonis

    A very handsome young man.

  • amazon

    A tall, strong, often masculine woman.

  • chimera

    An often grotesque creature of the imagination.

  • cornucopia

    (1) A container shaped like a hollow horn full of fruits, vegetables, and ears of grain. (2) An abundance of something desirable.

  • Elysium

    A place or condition of ideal happiness; paradise.

  • epicure

    A person with cultivated taste, especially for food and drink; a gourmet.

  • exodus

    A situation in which many people leave a place at the same time.

  • gorgon

    An ugly, repulsive, or terrifying woman.

  • halcyon

    (1) Calm and peaceful. (2) Happy and successful.

  • meander

    (1) To follow a winding course. (2) To wander slowly without a specific purpose or direction.

  • oedipal

    Relating to an intense emotional relationship with one's mother and conflict with one's father.

  • ostracize

    To exclude someone from a group by common consent .

  • paean

    (1) A song of joy, praise, tribute, or triumph. (2) A work that praises or honors its subject.

  • philippic

    A speech full of bitter condemnation; a tirade.

  • satyr

    A man with a strong desire for many women.

  • zealot

    A fanatical supporter.

  • dragon's teeth

    Seeds of conflict.

  • Achilles' heel

    A vulnerable point.

  • Pandora's box

    A source of many troubles.