Word of the Day

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


From A Word a Day: worth googling it and subscribing.

with Anu Garg



noun: A hired mourner.

There are some things in life money can't buy, for everything else, there's Mastercard. With the right credit card you could even hire mourners for your funeral or find the right sentiment. While researching this word, I came across websites that offer "eulogy packs". One such site lists a "Mother's Eulogy pack" that includes "9 speeches, 3 poems, 3 free bonus". Only $25.95 -- have your credit card ready. Fathers go cheaper: $19.97.

Let's not be too smug and look down upon those who buy these packs. When we go to the neighborhood card store to buy a greeting card or a sympathy card, we're also hiring someone to package words to help us convey our feelings.

Professional mourners are not a new thing either -- there's a long tradition going back to ancient Greece and beyond. As late as 1908 a New York Times article reported on a professional mourners' strike in Paris.

Then there is claque, a group of people hired to applaud a performer at a show.

From Greek moira (fate, death) + logos (word).

"There may be found traces, too, of Lethe, the river of forgetfulness in the death ballads sung by the hired mourners... The moirologists will sing of the loneliness of the living, of the horrors of death."
George Walter Prothero; The Quarterly Review; John Murray (London, UK); 1886.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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