Word of the day

The word for today is…

callisthenics (also calisthenics) (noun) – (Chiefly british) 1. (Gymnastics) (functioning as plural) Light exercises designed to promote general fitness, develop muscle tone, etc
2. (Gymnastics) (functioning as singular) The practice of callisthenic exercises

Source : The Free Dictionary

Etymology : Kind of light gymnastics, 1842, (the adjective calisthenic/callisthenic, of exercises, was in use by 1837), formed on model of French callisthenie, from Latinised combining form of Greek kallos “beauty” (see Callisto) + sthenos “strength, power, ability, might” (perhaps from PIE root *segh- “to have, hold,” on the notion of “steadfastness, toughness”) + -ics.

“Of this at least I am certain, that none but a born romp and hoyden, or a girl accustomed [to] those new-fangled pulleyhauley exercises, the Calisthenics, is fitted for the boisterous evolutions of a sea-voyage.” [Thomas Hood, “The Schoolmistress Abroad,” New Monthly Magazine, 1842]

Originally, gymnastic exercises suitable for girls and meant to develop the figure and promote graceful movement. OED describes the word as “chiefly a term of young ladies’ boarding-schools.” A place for doing it was a calisthenium (1853). The proper Greek, if there was such a word in Greek, would have been *kallistheneia.


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Peter is a fourth-generation New Zealander, with his mother’s and father’s folks having arrived in New Zealand in the 1870s. He lives in Lower Hutt with his wife, three cats and assorted computers.

His work history has been in the timber, banking and real estate industries, and he’s now enjoying retirement. He has been interested in computers for over thirty years and is a strong advocate for free open source software. He is chairman of the SeniorNet Hutt City committee.

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