Tuesday, January 05, 2010


I knew about Achilles' Myrmidons but I never knew that this word has a negative connotation in English. I love learning new words. This one came from the Merriam-Webster Word of the Day email, which I get in my inbox daily. You can subscribe at the Merriam-Webster website.

The Word of the Day for January 5 is:

myrmidon \'MER-muh-dahn\ noun
: a loyal follower; especially : a subordinate who executes orders unquestioningly or unscrupulously

Example sentence:
The boss was more likely to offer promotions to her myrmidons than to those workers who occasionally questioned her tactics or proposed alternate solutions.

Did you know?
The Myrmidons, legendary inhabitants of Thessaly in Greece, were known for their fierce devotion to their king, Achilles, who led them in the Trojan War. "Myrmex" means "ant" in Greek, an image that evokes small and insignificant workers mindlessly fulfilling their duty. Whether the original Myrmidons were given their name for that reason is open to question. The "ant" association is strong, however. Some say the name is from a legendary ancestor who once had the form of an ant; others say the Myrmidons were actually transformed from ants. In any case, since the 1400s, we've employed "myrmidon" in its not-always-complimentary, ant-evoking, figurative sense.

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