A Word Nerd Thursday blog

By Voni Harris 2-2-12

Ever notice how the words TRAGEDY and COMEDY are so very alike? Well, I am a Word Nerd, so, of course, I did. And I had to check it out.

And what I learned made me laugh.

First, for COMEDY. It ultimately comes from the Greek komos, “to revel” and oide, “song.” (We get our word ODE from the same root, as in “Ode to a Grecian Urn”. You read that in high school poetry class, right?)

That’s not the funny part.

TRAGEDY comes (via French and Latin) from the Greek tragoidia, meaning “goat-song.”

Okay. Re-read that and just try not to smile. I dare you.

Seriously. The Greek tragos means “goat” and oide means “song.”

 The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language goes on to explain that it was probably the name of a ceremony associated with goat-satyr plays.
Angora Goat

Image via Wikipedia

Isn’t just like our Jesus to place reminders of humor and good times right in the very word TRAGEDY?

And just what is a goat-satyr play, anyway? Fair enough, but I’ll be just a touch wicked and suggest that’s what the online Noah Webster 1828 Dictionary is for. And, of course, Wikipedia. How many of you were ever told by your mother, “Look it up,” in the middle of a homework dilemma? Now you know how I became a Word Nerd! Consider it your WORD NERD CHALLENGE OF THE WEEK.

If you are in the middle of your own goat-song today, please know that I prayed for you as I wrote this.



(comedy and tragedy mask image at