Questions and Answers

Corybantic

Okay, so Melanie has been doing a Grandiloquent Word of the Day every… week? and I’ve not been participating because either I miss the posts or I’ve been too tired to do a blog about the word of the… day. ^_^ Anyway, I’m here today and the word of this day is, as you may have guessed, corybantic which spellcheck insists is not a word. Of course it does. The GWotD says that corybantic means:

wow this image is from 2012…

Well, whenever I see a new word, my thing isn’t to write a story or poem as the prompt suggests, but to dig into the origins of the word and how it’s evolved over time. I’m just weird that way, dear reader. But I guess most of y’all know and accept that about me. For anyone new to this blog, welcome to the madness. This particular word isn’t used nowadays, in any form that I can find, so it hasn’t really evolved as some words do. And it had a… I want to say, harder meaning than being beside oneself with joy as the GWotD suggests. Though I guess you could say that’s kind of an evolution. Maybe?

Merriam-Webster’s definition was… not helpful: being in the spirit or manner of a Corybant. I mean, of course. The dictionary gives this “definition” then one has to look up what a Corybant is, and off we go down a rabbit hole that is the dictionary. Who doesn’t like to play that game? But luckily they kindly give the definition in their etymology. which was:

The big name in goddesses in Phrygia (Asia Minor) in the fifth century B.C. was Cybele (also called Cybebe or Agdistis), the “Great Mother of the Gods.” According to Oriental and Greco-Roman mythology, she was the mother of it all: gods, humans, animals . . . even nature itself. The Corybants were Cybele’s attendants and priests, and they worshipped her with an unrestrained frenzy of wildly emotional processions, rites, and dances. “Corybantic,” the adjective based on the name of Cybele’s attendants, can be used to describe anything characterized by a similarly unrestrained abandon. [emphasis mine]–

Most of the definitions I read about this word had something to do with being unrestrained and many mentioned dancing or rituals because of the connection to the goddess Cybele. According to Dictionary.com, to be corybantic was to be: frenzied; agitated; unrestrained. Their etymology was thus:

The English adjective corybantic comes from the Greek adjective Korybantikós, a derivative of the noun Korýbās (inflectional stem Korýbant-) “a corybant, a priest of the goddess Cybele in Phrygia (now in west central Turkey),” and in Greek also meaning “drunken person, enthusiast.” Further etymology is risky: apart from Korýbās and its derivatives being non-Greek, not much can be said. Phrygian is an obvious choice, but the Phrygians themselves borrowed a great deal from other peoples of ancient Anatolia (Asian Turkey). Corybantic entered English in the 17th century.

frenzied and unrestrained…

For a bit more on this word, if you’re a total word nerd like me, here’s another bit of information. It doesn’t add too much more to the conversation, but every little bit counts. As I said, this word isn’t used at all these days, from what I can tell. Spell check doesn’t like it. I guess some other word nerd would drag it out and dust it off because they like the way it sounds, but it’s dead in the every day vernacular. So thanks to Melanie for the word, I’ll try to participate more often. Sorry I don’t do the story or poetry thing, but I participate in my own way. Check out her site (linked above) for other answers.

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