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Halcyon

Definition: Calm and peaceful, prosperous, (metaphorically) golden.

Pronunciation: HAL-see-on

Origin

This beautiful adjective stems from the Greek halo meaning sea or salt, and kyon, which literally means to swell, but stands for conceiving.

Why this word?

This word, adjective, is not simply a word; it is a combination of stories which give it its special meaning.

In Greek mythology, Alcyone (daughter of Aeolus) married Ceyx, son of Eosphorus, the morning star. The two were happy enough to sacrilegiously call each other Zeus and Hera (love hubris right here!). This angered the God, and to punish Cyex, Zeus threw a thunderbolt at his ship while he was at sea. Morpheus, the God of dreams, disguised himself as Cyex and appeared before Alcyone to tell her of his fate. In her grief, she threw herself into the sea. In heavenly compassion, the Gods turned both Alcyone and Cyex into birds, for the two to live happily even just a bit more.

Alcyone and Cyex’s short marriage became the symbol of happiness, but long gone happiness.

The term of halcyon days, dated back to the 1540’s through the Latin alcyonei dies and the Greek alkyonides hemerai, represent 14 days of calm weather at the winter solstice. During those days, that mythical bird, which is identified with the (Kingfisher birds) was said to breed in a floating nest, which can only take place on calm waters.

How to use halcyon?

Halcyon days are a blissful past; both the saying and the adjective can only be used in past tense, as reminiscing remembrance. However, this word can also be used in present tense when compared to a less halcyon future.

The halcyon days of summer will soon be replaced with harsh winter.

Generally, halcyon is a great word with which you can replace your habitual ‘peaceful’ and ‘tranquil’.   

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Written by Victoria Sheinkin

Victoria Sheinkin is a writer, content editor, translator and chief editor for UnusedWords.com. Speaking three and a half languages, she holds two BAs from the Tel Aviv university- Communication and jounalism, English literature and linguistics.

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