Monday, May 14, 2012


TileHead’s Word of the Day for 14 May 2012

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Word of the Day:

  PSCHENT  (n. pl. -S)

  1. (n.) a double crown worn by later Egyptian pharaohs, symbolic of dominion over both Upper and Lower Egypt

Useful info for word game players:
  • Front hooks: (none)
  • Back hooks: -S
  • Anagrams: (none)
  • Longer extensions: (none)
  • Wraparounds: (none)
  • Other Spellings: (none)
  • Related Forms: (none)

Current theme:
Ancient Egypt

The PSCHENT headdress was meant to symbolize the unification of the lands of ancient Egypt (c. 3000 B.C.), and accordingly it combined the White Crown of Upper Egypt with the Red Crown of Lower Egypt.  Most of the well known achievements of ancient Egypt, such as the construction of the Great Pyramids, occurred after the period of unification.

This strange-looking word is perhaps the best surviving example in modern English of the ancient Egyptian language.  Ancient Egyptian writing did not usually incorporate vowels, thus this word was taken into English as PSCHENT in the 1800s from a Greek transliteration of the Egyptian demotic p-skhnt (“the” + “double crown”).  The word appears on the historically important Rosetta Stone, rediscovered in 1799.  Since the Rosetta Stone contained the same text written in HIEROGLYPHICS (a pictorial writing system), in DEMOTIC script (a simplified form of ancient Egyptian), and in ancient Greek, it was the key that allowed scholars to begin deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

The word ANKH (an ancient Egyptian symbol of everlasting life) was featured in last week’s theme on symbols, and my investigation of that word inspired me to unearth a lot more words related to the land of the pharaohs, pyramids, and hieroglyphics.  I invite you to join me this week on a brief lexical excavation of more words related to ancient Egypt.

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