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A goddess on a mountain top was burning like a silver flame...
Saturdays are perfect days for beautiful surprises. Surprise—we’re talking about Venus today!
By what cosmic coincidence did the hottest planet in our Solar System come to be named for the hottest deity in the Roman pantheon? Venus, the second planet from the sun, was actually deemed the most beautiful star in the sky by none other than Homer of Iliad and Odyssey fame. Yet, our closest planetary neighbor loses its luster once you get closer to its surface, described by astronomers as sulfurous hellscape.
The goddess Venus, on the other hand, was revered as the avatar of love, beauty, desire, sex, fertility, prosperity, and victory. She, much like her Greek counterpart Aphrodite, played a central role in culture and was even considered the mother of the founder of the Roman people.
Interestingly, unlike Saturn or Mercury, Venus does not bestow her divine name to other words. Instead, her name derives from the root WEN-, meaning to desire or strive for. This root also gives us the name of the Norse Vanir—a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom, and prophecy—as well as that of the 23rd element, vanadium, a rare medium-hard, malleable gray-white element used mainly to produce certain alloys.
How many other English words come from from the root WEN-? You’ll be surprised…
overweening (adj) - arrogant, presumptuous, or excessively proud
BREAKDOWN: OVER- (over) + WEN- (desire) + -ING (act or state)
venerate (verb) - to hold in deep respect; to honor and revere
— veneration is a feeling of profound respect inspired by age, wisdom, dignity, or holiness
venerable (adj) - deserving or commanding profound respect due to age, wisdom, dignity, or holiness
BREAKDOWN: WEN- (strive for) + -ABLE (able to be)
venereal (adj) - of, pertaining to, or contracted during sexual activity
venery (noun) - the indulgence of sexual desire; the act or practice of hunting
BREAKDOWN: WEN- (strive for) + -ERY (act)
venial (adj) - not serious as an offense; forgivable or pardonable
venison (adj) - meat from a deer or related animal
venom (noun) - a poisonous substance secreted by animals and injected through stings or bites; a feeling or expression of great bitterness or anger
— venomous means producing or secreting venom; full of bitter or hateful feelings
wean (verb) - to gradually eliminate something from your life; to familiarize or accustom to
win (verb) - to acquire or secure through effort or fortune; to attain victory
— a win is a success or victory
— winning can mean victorious or attractive and endearing
winsome (adj) - attractive and endearing; charming in a sweet and delightful way
BREAKDOWN: WEN- (strive for) + -SOME (causing)
wish (verb) - to feel or express a strong desire or hope for
— a wish is a strong feeling or desire for something
wont (noun) - habit, practice, or customary behavior
“Venus, thy eternal sway All the race of men obey. He is not a lover who does not love for ever.” —Euripides