Ah, the first official post of #TheYearToBe___. I feel the need for fireworks. A trumpet fanfare. Too early for all of that? No, friends, it’s not because I’m starting off the New Year with a doozy of a word: ambitous.
So tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen. Go ahead and pour yourself a cuppa Ambition. I’ll wait. (My word, you look lovely in the morning. Is that a new dressing gown?)
So…ambitious. It’s an adjective. An old one. First used in the English language in c1384 according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Ambition is the noun form. But it’s too early for all of that. Take a sip; it’s about to get good.
The etymology, oh la la, is French (ambitieux), from the Latin (ambitiōs-us). Its primary definition? Full of ambition, thirsting after honour or advancement; aspiring to high position.
Oh yeah, that Dolly, she knew what she was talking about when she wrote “9-5.” (Confession: I honestly thought Ambition was a brand name. For many years. And if I were to own a coffee shop, I’d name it Ambition. Wouldn't that be genius?)
Well, crud. A google search reveals someone has already thought of it. Scratch that.
But thirst, people. Being ambitious is all about thirsting. You’ve been thirsty. I know it. I’ve been thirsty. Back in the day when water bottles weren’t ubiquitous and we weren’t allowed to have drinks in school, I remember gulping down water, chocolate milk, anything liquid during lunch. It’s a biological necessity, the need for water. Without it? We’re toast.
So is this thirst--this desire for advancement--a biological necessity? Do we need something to strive for in order to survive? Moreover, can we ever thrive without thinking that there is more? That we need/want/desire/must have more? (Don’t even get me started on the aspiring (breath!) part of the definition.)
Finished with your first cuppa? I’ll pour another. And we’ll move onto something more light hearted. Because the previous questions scare the hoochie out of me. Perhaps I’ll ponder them this week. I’d invite you to do the same, but I would like you to join me for Week Two.
We know the etymology, the definition, the scary philosophical questions. Let’s move on to the exemplars. (Gosh, I love the OED.) First up, the Wycliffe Bible in 1384. Okay, that’s good.
But there’s some bad news, Paradise Lost and Julius Ceasar are also listed for the early usages of ambitious.
Super, I’m Caesar or Satan here in the very first week of #TheYearToBe___. The tragic overreacher. I am Icarus, Faust. I am Victor Frankenstein. Prometheus. Heathcliff.
I am seeking the forbidden. Stealing fire. Flying too near the sun.
(I’ll also contemplate that whole tragic overreacher part…later this week. Because it scares me now.)
Quenched your thirst, have we? I’ll leave you with some tastier news. Satan is, after all, perched on my shoulder as I thirst for more than I am allotted on this earth. I shall present to you (without comment) a figurative use of ambitious: erecting itself, as if aspiring to rise; rising, swelling, towering.