During a prior phase of my life I was considered gregarious – I loved a crowd and wanted to be in the middle of it. These days, I’m virtually agoraphobic – I don’t like crowds and I’m most comfortable when I’m alone or with just a few people. In fact, about the largest group of people I’m usually around is my church, SouthWoods, which is pastored by a great guy and my friend, Greg.
Oops, it appears I did it again (again). Gregarious, agoraphobic, and even Greg all flow out of a IE Root ger-1 meaning “to gather”. (I believe the gr in group comes from this root.) One of the first words I learned in Latin was grex – a herd of sheep. Gregory (sounds oddly like gregarious) means “watcher”… of the grex – a shepherd.
I just finished a funny little book on the first chili cook off in Terlingua, Texas (H. Allen Smith’s The Great Chili Confrontation). Smith is a great writer, duh!, and uses some seldom-seen words. One in particular caught my eye – panegyric. I’ve seen it before, but want to make sure I understood it’s meaning clearly. You would call the long speech introducing a political candidate a panegyric. It is a eulogy (a good word) or praise of a person made publicly – in front of a group of people, a crowd, a herd of people. So when I called Greg “a great guy” in a public internet post, that was a panegyric – and I meant it!