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thyrsus

[thur-suh s] /ˈθɜr səs/
noun, plural thyrsi
[thur-sahy] /ˈθɜr saɪ/ (Show IPA)
1.
Botany. a thyrse.
2.
Greek Antiquity. a staff tipped with a pine cone and sometimes twined with ivy and vine branches, borne by Dionysus and his votaries.
Origin
1585-1595
1585-95; < Latin < Greek thýrsos Bacchic staff, stem of plant
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for thyrsi

thyrsus

/ˈθɜːsəs/
noun (pl) -si (-saɪ)
1.
(Greek myth) a staff, usually one tipped with a pine cone, borne by Dionysus (Bacchus) and his followers
2.
a variant spelling of thyrse
Word Origin
C18: from Latin, from Greek thursos stalk
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 thyrsi

thyrsus

n.

1590s, from Greek thyrsos, literally "stalk or stem of a plant," a non-Greek word of unknown origin. The staff or spear tipped with an ornament like a pine cone, and sometimes wreathed in ivy or vine branches, borne by Dionysus and his votaries.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for thyrsi

thyrsus

in Greek religion, staff carried by Dionysus, the wine god, and his votaries (Bacchae, Maenads). In early Greek art the Bacchae were usually depicted as holding branches of vine or ivy, but after 530 BC the staff to which the name thyrsus properly applied began to be shown as a stalk of giant fennel (narthex) segmented like bamboo, sometimes with ivy leaves inserted in the hollow end. Bacchae were depicted and described using them as weapons. Scholars differ on the extent to which these staffs can be explained as symbols of fertility.

Learn more about thyrsus with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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12
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