Weekly Word: August

Since August is my birthday month (and therefore my favorite month of the year), I was happily surprised that august is also an adjective: “inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; majestic”. A perfect description of me, don’t you think? :P

Merriam-Webster picked august for today’s word, and you can listen to their word-of-the-day podcast here (MP3 file). In it they talk about the word’s interesting history:

"August" comes from the Latin word "augustus," meaning "consecrated" or "venerable," which in turn is related to the Latin "augur," meaning "consecrated by augury" or "auspicious." In 8 B.C. the Roman Senate honored Augustus Caesar, the first Roman emperor, by changing the name of their month "Sextilis" to "Augustus." Middle English speakers inherited the name of the month of August, but it wasn't until the mid-1600s that "august" came to be used generically in English, more or less as "augustus" was in Latin, to refer to someone with imperial qualities.

I still can’t believe I’ve been using this word my whole life and I never knew about its other meaning! Well, it isn’t a common meaning, that’s for sure. I don’t know when I’d ever use it (except maybe to describe myself on my birthday), but at least now I know I have the option.