Monday, January 23, 2012


TileHead’s Word of the Day for 23 January 2012

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DRACONIC  (adj.)

  1. (adj.) pertaining to a dragon
  2. (adj.) draconian: marked by extreme severity or cruelty

Useful information for game players:
  • Front hooks: (none)
  • Back hooks: (none)
  • Anagrams: CANCROID
  • Longer extensions: (none)
  • Wraparounds: (none)
  • Other Spellings: (none)
  • Related Forms: DRACONIAN (adj.)

The ancient Greek word drakon (“dragon, serpent”) probably derived from a verb meaning “to see clearly,” which may help explain why dragons are often depicted as watchful guardians.  Similarly, the ancient Greek legislator Drakon (or Draco) may have been so called because of his keen eye for the law.  His code of laws was said to be so strict that it was “written in blood,” as it specified the death penalty for even relatively minor offenses.  The word DRACONIAN (marked by severity or harshness) stems from this association.

But drakon and its progeny also influenced several other words.  A French form gave English the familiar word DRAGON, and the Latin form draco is behind DRACONIC as well as DRACAENA / DRACENA (a tropical shrub or tree) and FIREDRAKE (a fire-breathing dragon).

Although dragons often have negative connotations in Western culture, they are symbols of strength and good luck in many Asian cultures.  Speaking of which, today is the beginning of the auspicious Year of the Dragon in the Chinese calendar.  Happy lunar new year!

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