November 14, 2011
acolyte (noun)
\AK-uh-lyte\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : someone who follows and admires a leader2 : someone who helps the person who leads a church service
How do you use it?
The leader has his detractors, but he had a large group of acolytes hanging on his every word.
Are you a word wiz?

"Acolyte" comes to us from two Greek roots. What do you think those roots mean?

"Acolyte" comes to us ultimately from the Greek roots "a-" or "ha-," meaning "together," and "keleuthos," meaning "path." Those two roots were combined to give us the Greek word "akolouthos"--the name for a person who assists a priest during a Christian church service. So how did "akolouthos" end up in English as "acolyte"? It became "acolyte" by being borrowed and respelled by a number of languages before it ended up in English. Each language has its own way of spelling certain sounds. Medieval Latin spelled "akolouthos" as "acoluthus," and then in Anglo-French "acoluthus" was spelled "acolit." The Anglo-French spelling was taken into Middle English, where it was given the spelling we use today: "acolyte."
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