Monday, December 17, 2007

Word of the Day: calliope

Sentence: “WHAT other city, after being half-drowned and left to starve, foiled by bureaucracy and attacked by the auto-immune disease of rampant crime, could stagger to its feet to welcome visitors with a platter of oysters on the half shell and a rousing brass band? What place, barely two years after Hurricane Katrina, could provide streetcar rides and impromptu parades, riverboat calliopes and sidewalk tap dancers? When chroniclers look back, the city's ability to be itself — a place that embraces sorrow and joy with equal gusto — in this hardest of times will become part of its legend.” – 12/16/07 New York Times

cal·li·o·pe /[kuh-lahy-uh-pee; for 1 also kal-ee-ohp]
Also called steam organ. a musical instrument consisting of a set of harsh-sounding steam whistles that are activated by a keyboard.

(initial capital letter ) Also, Kalliope. Classical Mythology. the Muse of heroic poetry. Unabridged (v 1.1)Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

1858, "steam-whistle keyboard organ," in allusion to Calliope, ninth and chief muse of eloquence and epic poetry, from Gk. Kalliope, from kalli-, combining form of kallos "beauty" + opos (gen. of *ops) "voice."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper
calliope n

[L, fr. Gk Kalliope Calliope, the Greek Muse of epic poetry] : a keyboard musical instrument resembling an organ and consisting of a series of whistles sounded by steam or compressed air
Calliope - the Muse of epic poetry; the Muses were nine goddesses whom artists appealed to in order to inspire their works; epicists often called upon the Muse Calliope or another goddess to inspire their works at the beginning of their poems.

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