Ah! The letter “J!” While I quite enjoy the letter (if that is something one enjoys) – after all my eldest brother is John, and our eldest son is Joshua – it is also a beginning to 5-letter words that frequently escape my memory when playing “Wordsplosion!”
janiform – [jan-uh-fawrm], Adjective; Janus-faced, after the god Janus, who was two-faced. The first month of the new year was named for his bifacial nature. Janus had one face looking ahead to the new year and one face looking back to the old. Therefore if you are janiform, you are two-faced.
OK! I get it! So the prefix “jani” must refer to Janus, right? And as the suffix “-ary” is defined as:
1. –ary, adjective suffix derived from Latin –aris or –arius, meaning “of, having to do with” > cautionary, plenipotentiary
2. –ary, noun suffix derived from the masculine form of –arius, meaning “one who is concerned with” > voluptuary, dignitary, emissary, antiquary, votary, adversary.
3. –ary, noun suffix from the neuter –arium, meaning “place for” or, sometimes, “thing for” > apiary, mortuary, ossuary, sanctuary, penitentiary, reliquary, library, salary, diary, breviary, formicary, itinerary, vocabulary –
Then I am forced to conclude (OK, I’m not forced, but, well, you know. . .) that janissary or janizary will mean anything of or having to do with Janus; or anything concerning Janus; or a place to store all your spare Janus statues. (In other words, a statuary for Janus!) Right? Wrong! Get a load of the real definition:
janissary -(jn-sr) also jan·i·zar·y (-zr)
n. pl. jan·is·sar·ies also jan·i·zar·ies
1. A member of a group of élite, highly loyal supporters.
2. A soldier in an élite Turkish guard organized in the 14th century and abolished in 1826.
Etymology: French janissaire, from Old French jehanicere, from Old Italian giannizero, from Ottoman Turkish yanī-cheri, (new army): yanī new+ cheri from Middle Persian, special troops, chērīh, bravery, victory, from chēr, brave, victorious.
Will I ever find any etymological peace? Ah, me! But for sure, I am right about the next word, because I know that the suffix “-trix” does the following to a word:
A suffix occurring in loanwords from Latin, where it formed feminine nouns
or adjectives corresponding to agent nouns ending in -tor (Bellatrix).
On this model, -trix is used in English to form feminine nouns (aviatrix; executrix) and geometrical terms denoting straight lines (directrix) –
Therefore the definition of janitrix has to be a female Janus, right? A two-faced woman? Whatever, you get the idea. Once again, am I right? No! Here is the real definition:
janitrix – a female janitor. Sheesh!
I refuse to go any further with these jumpin’, jivin’, janiform J‘s. And I continue to be amazed, dazed, and confused by the English language! For now, I’ve had enough. . .
(Words and definitions for my “Wednesday’s Word and Picture” posts are most often found at the following highly-recommended site: Phrontistery )