Tuesday 14 September 2010


No reasonable person can look at the word Venus without trying to rhyme it with something. It's like wombat: it's impossible. This is a mite unfair on the poor old lady. Venus has got a terrible press. From her do we get venal, venom, venial and venereal disease.

Vener is the Latin genitive. One early science fiction writer, W.A. Lach-Szyrma (of whom much much more later), wrote:

I must also apologise for the word "Venusian". I know well that compounds ought to be derived from the genitive Veneris; but these are already connected with ideas opposed to those I wish to convey.

Having a planet named after you is small compensation for such indignity. Even Shakespeare in Venus and Adonis makes her out as a slightly dotty and unwanted nymphomaniac.

Her Greek equivalent Aphrodite rhymes with nightie and gave us aphrodisiac.

I have already blogged about Venus of the Beautiful Bottom, and know nothing about fly-traps.

The Inky Fool was in a hurry and couldn't chat


  1. mighty Aphrodite in her nightie shone like light, gee... ;-)

  2. The Antipodean, realising she still hasn't looked up genitive,16 September 2010 at 16:45

    Depends if you believe that any press is good press - how many words have Aphrodite or Diana got besides that one, hmm? Aphrodite has an annoyingly catchy pop song now, (although she has to share it with a few mortals) so she's catching up on that front.

    Venus is Friday in lots of languages. That's gotta be good for something.

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  4. "venom" isn't derived from "Venus" - both words are from PIE *wen-.
    Or is that too pedantic.

  5. But "combat" rhymes with "wombat."

  6. By impossible, I didn't mean that the word was unrhymable. I meant that it was impossible to avoid thinking of the rhymes.

    That wombat rhymes with combat is the first thing on my mind whenever I hear the word. Just as venison ineluctably suggests the benison of Tennyson.

    My mind is pregnant with wombats.