March 21st, 2006


Another Interesting Word

I always try to guess a meaning for unknown words before the "word of the day" file has opened. It keeps my mind active during the mind-numbing wait for country phone lines to deliver the information.

So, I looked at this word, aubade, and had an acute attack of "internetitis". I decided the "au" was the last letters for web sites from the country AUSTRALIA. Then I slipped into "Aussie" mode and created a scenario in which one Australian outback sheep herder greeted a friend bringing his sheep down to the communal "billybong" (waterhole), "He bade his mate good-bye with a unique aubade."

So I got a good laugh when I read the "real" definition:
aubade \oh-BAHD\, noun:
A song or poem greeting the dawn; also, a composition suggestive of morning.

He was usually still awake when the birds began to warble their aubade.
    -- Christopher Buckley, "What was Robert Benchley?," National Review, June 16, 1997

And there he lingered till the crowing cock...
Sang his aubade with lusty voice and clear.
    -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Emma and Eginhard


Aubade comes from the French, from aube, dawn + the noun
suffix -ade: aube ultimately derives from Latin albus, white,
pale, as in "alba lux," the "pale light" of dawn.

I guess in my Aussie's previous life, he must have been a French song bird...
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