This week’s interesting word may be familiar to Greek mythology and ancient history enthusiasts. It is usually applied to figures such as Charon, Hecate, Hermes, Apollo and Anubis.
Psychopomp is pronounced just as you would expect (you can listen to it here). The word is derived from the Greek word psukhopompos meaning ‘conductor or guide of souls’ – psukhē means ‘soul’ and pompos means ‘conductor’. According to the OED, the first recorded usage was in 1603.
Psychopompal and psychopompous can be used as adjectives and psychopompically is the adverb:
“I, Hermes-like, am coming to fetch you psychopompically to Hell.”
– Rupert Brooke, The letters of Rupert Brooke (1968). 1908
If you have an interest in psychology, you might recognise psychopomp as the term Jung used for the anima or animus (the link between the true inner self and the unconscious).
- The Oxford English Dictionary Online