In Homer's Odyssey, the main character, Odysseus, spends ten years trying to get back home after a war, and his trip is full of adventures and hardships.
Like that, an odyssey is a journey (literally or figuratively) that's long and often full of exciting and difficult things.
ODD uh see
Part of speech:
(Countable nouns, like “bottle,” “piece,” and “decision,” are words for things that can be broken into exact units. You talk about “a bottle,” “three pieces,” and “many decisions.”
Likewise, talk about one odyssey or multiple odysseys.)
The plural noun is "odysseys."
The adjective is "Odyssean," said "oh DEE see un," and always capitalized, probably because it hasn't seen as much use as the noun and still has a stronger link to the always-capitalized title of the poem (Odyssey) and the always-capitalized character's name (Odysseus.) That's just my best guess, though.
How to use it:
Because of this word's literary flavor, it can have a serious tone. You might use it literally ("our three-year odyssey through Europe") or figuratively ("the odyssey of self-discovery that extends far beyond adolescence.")
Feel free to get as abstract as you like: "Following her logic would require embarking on a mental odyssey, and I'm an unwilling traveler."
As the above example shows, you can use "odyssey" to exaggerate or be silly or sarcastic. "Sorry I'm late, y'all. I had to go on an odyssey through epically congested Houston roads."
To use the adjective, talk about an Odyssean hero, an Odyssean novel or movie, an Odyssean challenge or quest, and so on. But if you find yourself talking about an Odyssean journey, trip, exploration and so on, see if you can just say "odyssey" instead.
The first few years of college were an unexpected odyssey; I thought I'd just be learning about difficult academic concepts, but the real challenges were eating well without being told to and getting along with roommates.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? is kind of an amazing movie. It's an Odyssean story about three escaped convicts. My husband likes it for the story and the literary parallels, and I like it for the incredible soundtrack.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "odyssey" means when you can explain it without saying "eventful journey" or "challenging times."
Think of something you like that's gone through a lot of changes, and fill in the blanks: "(Thing) has gone on a/an (length of time) odyssey from (the way it started) to (the way it is now.)"
Example: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer went on a seven-year odyssey from a ridiculous, campy, monster-of-the-week show to a meaningful series with season-long story arcs, well-developed characters, and themes relevant to the frightening things in today's world."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
Our October game references some material that may be protected by copyright. I appreciate your understanding as I err on the side of caution by not publishing it here!
A Point Well Made:
Satchel Paige: "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you."
1. The opposite of ODYSSEY could be
2. She said she left school to pursue her own odysseys, but _____.
A. she's still working at the same dead-end job in the same town
B. she's only grown more and more successful with each year
C. the dozens of stamps on her passport indicate otherwise
Answers are below.
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Strangely enough, we met the word "odyssey" just yesterday in reference to Homer's Odyssey, which popped up in the definition of our word meaning "making you feel better by helping you forget your troubles." Can you recall that word, and how it was described in Homer's epic poem? It's here if you'd like to check.
Oh! One more thing. There's no official proof for this, but some etymologists believe that Odysseus, the character in Homer's Odyssey, got his name from an ancient Greek word for "hate" because the gods hated him. (Poor fellow.) If that's true, then today's word is related to another we've looked at recently. It means so awful that it deserves to be hated. What is it?
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