• quinquagenary •
kwing-kwah-jin-e-ri • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, adjective.
Meaning: A 50th anniversary.
Notes: This is a seldom used word, no doubt, because we ignore large anniversaries denoting fewer than 100 years (a centenary or centennial). It may be used as a noun (the quinquagenary of their wedding) or an adjective (their quinquagenary wedding celebration). This word is obviously related to quinquagenarian "(a) 50-year-old" but to no other words of any frequency at all.
In Play: This is a rare word, though perfectly active today: "The restaurant celebrated its quinquagenary with a fixed price plate that included truffles at a more than reasonable price." It serves just as well as an adjective: "The by now quinquagenary child was relieved to know he would never more be tormented by his octogenary guardian."
Word History: Today's potentially poignant Good Word comes from Latin quinquagenarius "having fifty", derived from quinquageni "fifty each". The word for "fifty" itself is quinquaginta, based on the word for "five", quinque + centenarius "hundred" smushed together. Quinque is still around today as cinque in Italian, cinq in French, and cinco in Portuguese and Spanish. Etymologists assume that the original Proto-Indo-European word for "five" was something like penkwe-, because it shows up in Greek as pente (as in pentagon), and in Sanskrit as pancam. Since we expect the Germanic languages to change the P to F, we are not surprised at English five and German fünf. It might surprise us to know that the same root turned up in two other English words related to the meaning "five", one with an N (finger) and one without (fist).
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