Printable Version
Pronunciation: me-si-æn-ik Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Related to Jesus Christ, believed by Christians to have been the savior of the world, the Messiah. 2. Committed with a passionate, fervent, perhaps misguided, crusading spirit for a cause.

Notes: This word has long since left the world of religion and wandered into mainstream speech. It is based on the noun messiah, which may be used to refer to Jesus or simply mean "a passionate, fervent egotist". Messianism refers to fervent commitment to the exceptionalism of oneself, one's cause, culture, or that of Jesus.

In Play: Originally, today's word referred exclusively to Christ: "A critical message of Jesus to the messianic community was that money is the root of all evil." However, it has long since entered the general vocabulary, reflecting only the passion of Christ: "The senator was blinded by his messianic zeal to feed and grow the military-industrial complex while in office."

Word History: Today's Good Word was taken via French from Late Latin messianicus "related to the Messiah", an adjective based on Messias. The Latin word was borrowed from Greek Messias, which heisted it from either Aramaic meshiha or Hebrew mashiah "the anointed", the noun from mashah "to anoint". (It is the Hebrew equivalent of Greek khristos "anointed", the Latin version [Christus] of which was borrowed by English as Christ.) The only other word English borrowed with this Semitic root, mšh "to anoint", is massage. English borrowed this word from French, which is a noun created from masser "to massage". The French may have picked up this word during its invasion of Egypt in 1798 from Arabic massa "to touch, feel". (Now a word of thanks to Anna Jung, a prolific contributor of enlightening Good Words like today's.)

Dr. Goodword,

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