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[yoo-nuh k] /ˈyu nək/
a castrated man, especially one formerly employed by Oriental rulers as a harem guard or palace official.
1350-1400; Middle English eunuk < Latin eunūchus < Greek eunoûchos eunuch, chamberlain, equivalent to eune-, stem of eunḗ bed, place of sleeping + -ochos keeping (akin to échein to hold Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for eunuchs
  • eunuchs staged attempted coups, killing thousands of officials.
  • Some were donated by eunuchs wishing the relevant emperor long life, with hundreds of donors' names scrawled on their sides.
  • We live in a court of tattling eunuchs, where promotion comes only with the support of others.
  • Thousands of servants, eunuchs, and superfluous officials were summarily dismissed.
British Dictionary definitions for eunuchs


a man who has been castrated, esp (formerly) for some office such as a guard in a harem
(informal) an ineffective man: a political eunuch
Word Origin
C15: via Latin from Greek eunoukhos attendant of the bedchamber, from eunē bed + ekhein to have, keep
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for eunuchs



late 14c., from Middle French eunuque and directly from Latin eunuchus, from Greek eunoukhos "castrated man," originally "guard of the bedchamber or harem," from euno-, comb. form of eune "bed," of unknown origin, + -okhos, from stem of ekhein "to have, hold" (see scheme (n.)).

The Greek and Latin forms of the word were used to translate Hebrew saris, which sometimes meant merely "palace official," in Septuagint and Vulgate, probably without an intended comment on the qualities of bureaucrats.

Eunuches is he þat is i-gilded, and suche were somtyme i-made wardeynes of ladyes in Egipt. [John of Trevisa, translation of Higdon's Polychronicon, 1387]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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eunuchs in Medicine

eunuch eu·nuch (yōō'nək)
A man or boy whose testes have been removed or have never developed.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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eunuchs in the Bible

literally bed-keeper or chamberlain, and not necessarily in all cases one who was mutilated, although the practice of employing such mutilated persons in Oriental courts was common (2 Kings 9:32; Esther 2:3). The law of Moses excluded them from the congregation (Deut. 23:1). They were common also among the Greeks and Romans. It is said that even to-day there are some in Rome who are employed in singing soprano in the Sistine Chapel. Three classes of eunuchs are mentioned in Matt. 19:12.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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