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Word of the Day
Sunday, June 11, 2017

Definitions for aegis

  1. protection; support: under the imperial aegis.
  2. sponsorship; auspices: a debate under the aegis of the League of Women Voters.
  3. Classical Mythology. the shield or breastplate of Zeus or Athena, bearing at its center the head of the Gorgon.

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Citations for aegis
Certainly the protecting aegis of his rank and title would be over the lad, but she might depend upon it any indiscretion of hers would damage him in his future career, the Major assured her. George Meredith, Evan Harrington, 1861
Ten days earlier, he surrendered under the aegis of the amnesty program. Nicholas Schmidle, "The Hostage Business," New York Times, December 4, 2009
Origin of aegis
The aegis or an aegis is associated with Zeus in the Iliad and Odyssey in the phrase “aegis-bearing.” It is usually imagined as a goatskin cloak worn over the shoulders, or as a (goatskin?) shield worn over the left arm, the “shield arm” (aíx, stem aig- means “goat” in Greek). Zeus also entrusts his aegis to Athena and Apollo to scatter their enemies and rescue their friends. The tragedian Aeschylus (525-456 b.c.) imagines the aegis as a storm cloud or hurricane wind (Greek kataigís means “squall, wind storm.”) This sense may be the original one because Zeus is the Greek development of Proto-Indo-European dyēus, the name of the god of the bright sky, and “aegis-bearing Zeus” may be “the sky god who holds the storm wind.” Aegis (in the sense “shield”) entered English in the 15th century.