Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for February 14, 2021 is:

prothalamion • proh-thuh-LAY-mee-un  • noun

: a song in celebration of a marriage


“In that month Ghalib wrote a prothalamion on the occasion of the forthcoming marriage of the king’s youngest son, Mirza Jawan Bakht.” — Ralph Russell, The Oxford India Ghalib, 2003

“The epilogue, in the form of a prothalamion on the marriage of the poet’s sister Cecilia, was designed to bring the work to an optimistic close.” — Ian Ousby, The Cambridge Paperback Guide to Literature in English, 1996

Did you know?

In 1595, the newly-wed Edmund Spenser wrote a poem to his young bride. He gave this poem the title Epithalamion, borrowing a Greek word for a song or poem in honor of a bride and bridegroom. Epithalamion, which eventually became established as an English word, can be traced to Greek words that mean “upon the bridal chamber.” A year later, Spencer was inspired to write another nuptial poem—this time in celebration of the marriages of the Earl of Worcester’s two daughters. But since the ceremonies had not yet taken place, he did not want to call it an epithalamion. After some reflection, Spencer decided to separate epi- from thalamion and wed the latter with pro- (“before”), inventing a word that would become established in the language with the meaning “a song in celebration of a marriage.”

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