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Sun., Aug. 12, 2012, 4:41 a.m.

A Word A Day — nectar

August 12, 2012

Word of the Day

  • nectar
  • audio pronunciation
  • \NEK-ter\


a : the drink of the Greek and Roman gods b : something delicious to drink c : a beverage of fruit juice and pulp
: a sweet liquid that is secreted by the nectaries of a plant and is the chief raw material of honey

After working for hours in the hot sun, there is no sweeter nectar than an ice-cold glass of lemonade.

"Large numbers of adult monarch butterflies are present in our area, busily laying eggs and stocking up on nectar as they continue to push north in waves to the limits of their breeding range." - From an article by Robert Zimmer in The Post-Crescent (Appleton, Wisconsin), June 30, 2012


"Nectar" is often mentioned in conjunction with "ambrosia," the food of the Greek and Roman gods. For centuries, English speakers have used "ambrosia" to refer to something with an extremely pleasing taste or smell and "nectar" to refer to a delicious drink, especially a fruit juice. To the ancient Greeks and Romans, however, the powers of nectar and ambrosia far exceeded those of any earthly fare; consuming nectar and ambrosia gave the gods their immortality. In Greek, the literal meanings of "ambrosia" and "nektar" are "immortality" and "overcoming death" respectively. "Nektar" is believed to be a compound of Greek "nek-" (probably akin to Latin "nec-," meaning "death") and "-tar" (probably akin to Sanksrit "tarati," meaning "he overcomes or crosses over").

From Merriam-Webster Online at

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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.