Word of the Day

Word of the day

Friday, February 01, 2019

sirenic

[ sahy-ren-ik ]

melodious, tempting, or alluring.

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What is the origin of sirenic?

English Siren (the mythical creature) comes from Greek Seirḗn, which has no reliable etymology. The Sirens first occur in the The Odyssey (book 12); there are only two of them, they are unnamed, and they live on an island yet sit in the middle of a flowery meadow surrounded by the moldering bones of the mortals they have beguiled. What the Sirens tempt Odysseus with is knowledge, irresistible for the curious, restless hero: “We know everything that happened at Troy, what the Argives (Achaeans, Greeks) and Trojans suffered at the will of the gods, and we know everything that happens on the all-nourishing earth.” Homer says nothing about the physical appearance of the Sirens—nothing about birds with the torso and arms of a woman, how many Sirens there were, their names and genealogy, all of which are later additions. The suffix -ic, however, has an excellent etymology: it comes from the Proto-Indo-European adjective suffix -ikos. The Greek form of this suffix is -ik ós, in Latin -icus (-ique in French). English -ic may come from the Greek, Latin, or French forms.

how is sirenic used?

She sang for an hour. I resigned myself to the spell of her voice–not alone to that sirenic power, but to the pleasure of being close beside her.

E. W. Olney, "Mrs. Vanderduynck," The Galaxy, June 1876

Seen in this context, good news of the kind Huffington now seeks to promulgate is a public menace. It’s sirenic, a call to blindness, a “happy” filter placed on a world that is often good but frequently not.

Alexander Nazaryan, "The Bad News About Good News," Newsweek, February 27, 2015
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