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Colossal, a stiff upper lip, yoga, emancipation

Created date

April 19th, 2018
Yoga is an extremely popular form of fitness geared toward both physical and mental health.

Yoga is an extremely popular form of fitness geared toward both physical and mental health.

Colossal

In the days of Ancient Rome and Greece, a “colossus” was a giant statue—one that made the viewer feel significantly smaller, even overpowered by its appearance. An example is the Colossus of Rhodes, which once stood at the Greek island’s harbor entrance.

This colossus took 12 years to build and towers at a height of 100 feet, certainly a looming presence worthy of its name. Eventually, English speakers adapted an adjectival variant of the term—“colossal”—to refer to anything huge.

“The city’s new stadium is colossal, with a capacity of 65,000.”

A stiff upper lip

“A stiff upper lip” is one of those sayings that come from purely figurative usage. The British are famous for keeping a stiff upper lip as a show of confidence and bravery, the idea being that the upper lip quivers just before one bursts into tears.

While the phrase borrows from a largely British habit, its origin is American. Perhaps the earliest known usage of the phrase is a passage in an 1815 issue of the Massachusetts Spy.

“I kept a stiff upper lip,” the author wrote, “and bought [a] license to sell my goods.”

Today, we continue to use this phrase in the same sense.

“I had to work to keep a stiff upper lip as I told my father I’d wrecked the car.”

Yoga

Yoga is an extremely popular form of fitness geared toward both physical and mental health. A tradition from ancient India, it goes back to the fifth century B.C.

The practice borrows its name from an old root word meaning to “yoke,” that is, the harnesses that join a team of oxen. Just as the yoke brings that team into working harmony, “yoga” is a way for the individual to harness him or herself into harmony with the surrounding environment.

“Many vets suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder have found relief through yoga.”

Emancipation

Abraham Lincoln made history when he issued his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, officially freeing all slaves held in rebel Southern territories. The move laid the groundwork for the 1865 passage of the hallowed 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which effectively ended slavery in America.

The word chosen for its title is indeed lofty and comes from the Latin of Ancient Rome, where the word “mancipatio” meant to physically take possession of an object. Conversely, the act of letting that object go from one’s hand was “emancipatio.”

In time, English speakers anglicized the term, transforming it to “emancipation.”

“Lincoln’s emancipation of the slaves is arguably his greatest presidential legacy.”

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