January 02, 2019
janitor (noun)
\JAN-uh-ter\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : doorkeeper2 : a person who has the care of a building
How do you use it?
"‘As you say, homeless--temporarily. But, fortunately. . . my friend had a friend who was janitor at a place on East Forty-First Street, and by a miracle of luck the only apartment in the building was empty.'" (P. G. Wodehouse, _The Little Warrior_)
Are you a word wiz?

"Janitor" goes back to the root word "janus." "Janus" was also the name of something in the past. Who or what do you think had the name "Janus"?

In ancient Rome, "janus" was not only a word meaning "gate" or "arch," but also the name of an ancient Roman god associated with doorways, gates, and beginnings. Images of Janus show him with two faces, one pointing forward and one backward. The Latin noun "janus" is the ancestor of our "janitor." English speakers have used "janitor" to mean "doorkeeper" since at least the early 1600s, eventually also applying it to a person who takes care of a building. You may be wondering why we're talking about janitors on New Year's Day. It's because "January" -- the name of the month that opens the door to a new year -- is another descendant of "janus."
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