Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Word of the Day for Tuesday June 28, 2005

woebegone \WOE-bee-gon\, adjective:
1. Beset or overwhelmed with woe; immersed in grief or sorrow;
2. Being in a sorry condition; dismal-looking; dilapidated;

Socrates, condemned to death by the people of Athens,
prepares to drink a cup of hemlock, surrounded by woebegone
--Alain De Botton, [1]The Consolations of Philosophy

This woebegone lot includes Henry, a real-estate developer
whose dream project has, like his marriage, slipped into
bankruptcy; Henry's sister, Wiloma, who has hurled herself
headlong into the arms of a New Age church to survive her
own divorce; and Henry and Wiloma's decrepit Uncle Brendan,
a former monk whose faith has eroded along with his health,
stranding him in a nursing home.
--Jennifer Howard, review of [2]The Forms of Water, by
Andrea Barrett, [3]New York Times, June 13, 1993

After 40 years as a producer he thinks of himself as a
battered, scarred but well-armoured animal, "like an old
turtle"; and if such creatures could speak they would
probably sound like [him], a bit woebegone but drolly
unsurprised by life's vicissitudes.
--"Time for another Hugo hit," [4]Times (London), May 22,

Woebegone is from Middle English wo begon, from wo (from Old
English wa, used to express grief) + begon, past participle of
begon, "to go about, to beset," from Old English began, bigan,
from bi-, "around, about" + gan, "to go."

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