Word of the Week: Paean

Word: paean

Pronunciation: PEE-ən

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: a song of praise or triumph

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

I recently discovered this word on YouTube when I happened upon a video of a VOCALOID song titled “Eternal Paean” (translated from its Japanese title 悠久賛歌 “Yūkyū Sanka”). Curious to know what exactly a “paean” was, I did a quick search for its dictionary entry, and when I learned what the word meant, I realized how fitting it was for a song in which Kaito and Meiko sing about the beauty and splendors of nature. After all, is there anything on this Earth that deserves more praise?

A “paean” is a song that demonstrates triumph or praise. This Latin derivative originated from the Greek noun paian, meaning “hymn of thanksgiving to Apollo” (the Greek god of the sun, knowledge and various arts). This noun evidently comes from the name Paion (or one of its alternative spellings), who, according to Greek mythology, was the physician of the gods.

Note that a “paean” doesn’t necessarily have to be a song. Another use for the word is to indicate a creative work that expresses enthusiastic praise, such as books that can be considered “paeans” to knowledge. Since I myself only recently learned about this word, I have yet to find a good place for it in my own stories, but if you feel it fits the tone of your writing, feel free to get as creative with it as you like. Your stories may just come across as “paeans” to artistic language!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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