thyrsus

[thur-suhs]
noun, plural thyrsi [thur-sahy] .
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:
1585–95; < Latin < Greek thýrsos Bacchic staff, stem of plant

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World English Dictionary
thyrse or thyrsus (θɜːs, ˈθɜːsəs)
 
n , pl thyrses, thyrsi
botany a type of inflorescence, occurring in the lilac and grape, in which the main branch is racemose and the lateral branches cymose
 
[C17: from French: thyrsus]
 
thyrsus or thyrsus (θɜːs, ˈθɜːsəs, ˈθɜːsaɪ)
 
n
 
[C17: from French: thyrsus]
 
'thyrsoid or thyrsus
 
adj

thyrsus (ˈθɜːsəs)
 
n , pl -si
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
 
[C18: from Latin, from Greek thursos stalk]

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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

thyrsus
1591, from Gk. thyrsos, lit. "stalk or stem of a plant," a non-Gk. 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 Britannica
Encyclopedia

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.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
In other words, they are good discipline for some thyrsus-bearers, but the initiated have little use for them.
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