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Word of the Day
Sunday, February 05, 2017

Definitions for juggernaut

  1. any large, overpowering, destructive force or object, as war, a giant battleship, or a powerful football team.
  2. anything requiring blind devotion or cruel sacrifice.
  3. (initial capital letter) Also called Jagannath. an idol of Krishna, at Puri in Odisha, India, annually drawn on an enormous cart under whose wheels devotees are said to have thrown themselves to be crushed.

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Citations for juggernaut
... big-time sports was "a juggernaut" that "Rolls over people" who criticize it, he said, making the faculty a silent, fearful, impotent majority. Robert Lipsyte, "Backtalk; Critics' Corner Still Tackling 'A Juggernaut,'" New York Times, November 26, 2000
He saw the swaying fortunes of mighty armies, he looked into council chambers, he seemed to feel the pulses of the great world force which kept going this most amazing Juggernaut. E. Phillips Oppenheim, The Pawns Count, 1918
Origin of juggernaut
1630-1640
Juggernaut, Jagernaut, Jaggarnat, Jagannat are some of the English approximations of the pronunciation of Hindi Jagannāth and Sanskrit Jagannātha. In Sanskrit and Hindi short a is pronounced like the u in but, which explains the choice of u over a. This also explains the English spelling punch “the beverage composed of five ingredients” from Hindi and Sanskrit pañca ”five”.) The English gg is to insure the “hard” pronunciation of the English g, as in get, and not the “soft” one as in gem. The English er and ar are misguided attempts to render the same Hindi and Sanskrit a. It also unintentionally shows the nonrhotic, or r-less pronunciation of British English. The final syllable naut is a fanciful association or mistake of using the English combining form -naut “sailor,” as in Argonaut,” to represent the long a of Hindi and Sanskrit (it is pronounced like the German long a as in Staat “state.”) The last form, Jagannat, represents Hindi and Sanskrit pronunciation pretty well. Juggernaut entered English in the mid-17th century.