Guns, herbs, and sores: inside the dragon’s etymological lair

23 April marks St. George’s Day. While St. George is widely venerated throughout Christian communities, England especially honors him, its patron saint, on this day. Indeed, his cross, red on a
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While St. George is widely venerated throughout Christian communities, England especially honors him, its patron saint, for St. George’s Day on 23 April. Indeed his cross, red on a white field, flies as England’s flag. St. George, of course, is legendary for the dragon he slew, yet St. George bested the beast in legend alone. From Beowulf to The Game of Thrones, this creature continues to breathe life (and fire) into our stories, art, and language; even the very word dragon hoards its own gold. Let’s brave our way into its etymological lair to see what treasures we might find. Dragon A dragon may evoke fiery breath and taloned wings, but the origin of the word dragon conjures up a different feature: eyes. Dragon ultimately comes from the ancient Greek δράκων (drakon), which names a ‘dragon’ and, more generally, a ‘serpent.’ This word, in turn, derives from a verb, δέρκεσθαι, ‘to see clearly’. As etymologist Walter Skeat glosses it, δράκων literally means ‘sharp-sighted.’ The. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Linguistics

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