a sylph and an ephebe

It’s been a while since I looked at dictionary.com’s “word of the day”. I need to start building my vocabulary again!

Yesterday’s word:

sylph \silf\ , noun:
1. A slender, graceful woman or girl.
2. (In folklore) one of a race of supernatural beings supposed to inhabit the air.

Today’s word:

ephebe \ ih-FEEB \ , noun;
1. A young man.

Quotes:The girl’s slender and sylph-like figure, tinged with radiance from the sunset clouds, and overhung with the rich drapery of the silken curtains, and set within the deep frame of the window, was a perfect picture.
— Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Snow-Image, and Other Tales

The summer before his senior year of college, in 1997, he worked as an intern at The Paris Review. James Linville, who was then the magazine’s editor, recalled Rowan as an “ephebe type, almost TrumanCapote-like.”
— Lizzie Widdicombe, “The Plagiarist’s Tale,” The New Yorker , Feb. 13, 2012 

Sylph was coined by Paracelsus. It is a blend of sylva, which meant “forest” in Latin, and the Greek word nymph.
Ephebe stems from the Greek word for a young man just entering manhood and commencing training for full Athenian citizenship. It comes from the roots ep- meaning “near” and hḗbē meaning “manhood.”


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