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22 January 2009

The Greeks Had a Word for It

The phrase "Purple Tunnel of Doom" was recently and briefly in vogue, referring to the tunnels underneath the Capitol in which massive queues of Inaugural-goers holding "purple tickets" ended up missing much of the event because it was too crowded for them to move forward and they were too stubborn to go back the way they came (which would've allowed them to at least catch the swearing-in on one of the Jumbotron screens all over the Mall).

But I said to one of my new online friends that "Purple Tunnel of Doom" sounded like a description of Andrew Sullivan's sausage-warmer, and that, in turn, reminded me of a word that I once found on wikipedia:


The eury- part means "wide," and the meaning of prōktos should be evident from its resemblance to "proctology." Thus, it implies "having an anus that is well-stretched as a result of being frequently trafficked," à la the dude, which is exactly the sense that Aristophanes intended when he apparently coined the term in The Clouds. It is, in other words, an elegantly classical way of rendering Sullivan's immortal self-description "Power Bottom."

The only trouble is that the prefix eury- is essentially meaningless to modern English speakers, as it's used only in a few obscure biological terms (such as eurythermous, "able to live in a wide range of temperatures"). But I see no reason why we couldn't replace it with some other Greek root connoting bigness -- for example, Sullivan (and other Power Bottoms) could be described as "megaloproctoid."


posted by Throbert | 1/22/2009 02:39:00 AM |
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