Word: terpsichorean

Pronunciation: tərp-si-kə-REE-ən / tərp-si-KOH-ree-ən

Part of Speech: adjective; noun


  1. (adj.) of or relating to dancing
  2. (n.) a dancer

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

Remember that word from Rango that I shared a while back? Well, today’s vocabulary entry features the other uncommon word from the name of his theater group! We’ve already learned from the context of this scene that a “thespian” is an actor, though its name also implies that said group of actors has another talent. It seems in a show put on by a group called “Madam Lupone’s Terpsichorean Troupe of Traveling Thespians”, the Inbred Rodents could have expected to see some dancing too!

Anything described as “terpsichorean” relates to dancing, while a “terpsichorean” is a dancer. The word arose in the early 19th century and derives from the name of the Greek and Roman goddess Terpsichore, the Muse of lyric poetry and dance. The name Terpsichore is originally Greek and literally means “delighting in dancing”.

Same as with the word “thespian”, “terpsichorean” takes its name from a figure in Greek lore, though in this case she was a goddess and a Muse as opposed to a poet. Notably, the name Terpsichore was used in the 18th century to denote a female dancer, and since the 19th century has evolved into a word referring to all dancers or the art of dance in general. Also similarly to “thespian”, “terpsichorean” is classified by Oxford Dictionaries as a “formal or humorous” word, possibly making it a good choice for satirical writing. If your characters often engage in the art of dancing, “terpsichorean” is an excellent word to keep on your list!

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

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