Friday, July 6, 2012

Good Word for Historical Novels

Since my current fiction is historical mysteries set in ancient Egypt, I thought this would be a great word to share for today, barbarian, thanks to the book, Wicked Words.

Barbarian - an uncouth, uncultured, uncivilized person, especially one who is fierce and brutal. The barbarian is the quintessential outsider. The word comes from barbaros, the ancient Greek term for anyone who couldn't be understood because he didn't speak Greek. It derives ultimately from baba, an Indo-European root that imitates the incoherent speech of a baby. Originally a relatively neutral term for a foreigner, the Greek word began to acquire pejorative connotations following the Persian invasions of Greece under Darius and Xerxes in the fifth century BCE.

Those wacky Greeks; unless you were Greek, you were a barbarian.


  1. hmmmm, I remember the word barbaros from my Latin in high school...the Germanic peoples were considered barbarians by the Romans, and were a topic in the Caesar's Gallic Wars...but it's believable that the word migrated from the Greeks to the Romans.

  2. Many of the ancient peoples picked up the usage. The ancient Egyptians referred to "barbarians," as anyone who didn't live as they did. And, the Greeks always wanted to live like the Egyptians, but considered them, in some ways, to be "barbarians" because they didn't speak Greek.