Word of the Week #1


Words, words what do they mean…

Have you ever wondered; from where was the word “whale” wrought? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to Word of the Week where I will answer any and all of your etymological inquiries. Every week I will explore a unique word and educate our devoted readers on its meaning and origins. 

This inaugural issue will explore the word cacophony. Cacophony is the chaotic mixture of conflicting noises occurring at the same time. A noun, cacophony is one of my personal favorites, and as a high school student, I experience it every time I’m at a football game or in the hallway during class changes. 

Part of the reason I chose cacophony is its fascinating origin. Before its prevalence in 16th-century France, it began as a portmanteau of the Greek roots “kakos” and “phone”. A portmanteau is a blend of two words to form a single word with a combined meaning – think “frappuccino”.

The first part, “kakos” means bad or evil, while “phone” means sound. The two words put together form the greek word “kakophonos”. The literal translation of kakophonos is “ill-sounding,” and clearly its definition has remained faithful even in its modern incarnation. 

Cacophony is a word that perfectly embodies the evolution of the English language from its ancient origins. It has managed to remain relevant and utilized for centuries, and the exploration of its roots is a valuable exercise in understanding the evolution of language.