January 06, 2012
trophy (noun)
\TROH-fee\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : something taken from the enemy in victory or conquest especially when kept and displayed as proof of one's bravery or victory2 : something given in recognition of a victory or as an award for an achievement
How do you use it?
Our debate team won a first place trophy, which now sits in the school's awards case.
Are you a word wiz?

"Trophy" goes back to the Greek word "tropaion." If you were a Greek when that word was first being used, where would you have been most likely to see a "tropaion"?

B takes the prize. After a victory, ancient Greek warriors often hung captured enemy weapons and armor from a stake or tree somewhere on the battlefield, ideally at the spot where the enemy had first turned in retreat. The Greek name for such a memorial was "tropaion," ultimately from "trope," meaning "turn" or "rout." Eventually, "tropaion" was applied to permanent victory memorials of stone or bronze erected in any public place. The Romans borrowed the custom and Latinized the word to "tropaeum" and later "trophaeum." In the 1500s, English acquired the word through French as "trophe." "Trophy" now applies to anything displayed as a reminder of success.
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