There's No Such Thing as a Kudo

by Peter Saint-Andre


It always warms my heart when we import a word directly from ancient Greek into English. Often they are philosophical locutions, such as eudaimonia and ataraxia. Yet at times more mundane terms make the leap; these days perhaps the most common one is kudos (e.g., "kudos to you on aceing that algebra test!"). Consistent with modern English usage, people tend to pronounce it "koo-doze" and think of it as a plural ("that algebra test was really hard so you deserve many kudos for aceing it"). However, in ancient Greek κῦδος was pronounced "koo-doss" and was a singular noun (meaning fame, honor, renown). Just as we give praise (not "a praise") to a friend or colleague, so an ancient Greek might have given κῦδος. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but as a result there is no such thing as a kudo.

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