RDP Monday: HALCYON
late Middle English (in the mythological sense): via Latin from Greek alkuōn ‘kingfisher’ (also halkuōn, by association with hals ‘sea’ and kuōn ‘conceiving’).
Isn’t that an interesting history for this word? I was having trouble making the connection with the etymology to today’s usage, which is a serene, peaceful, beautiful sense of time and place—the halcyon days of our youth, for example.
So here’s the story, from Wiktionary:
From Latin Alcyone, daughter of Aeolus and wife of Ceyx. When her husband died in a shipwreck, Alcyone threw herself into the sea whereupon the gods transformed them both into halcyon birds (kingfishers). When Alcyone made her nest on the beach, waves threatened to destroy it. Aeolus restrained his winds and kept them calm during seven days in each year, so she could lay her eggs. These became known as the “halcyon days,” when storms do not occur. Today, the term is used to denote a past period that is being remembered for being happy and/or successful.
And there you have it. Once again, I’ve started my day learning something I didn’t know before 🙂