One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(in ancient Greece) a female follower of Bacchus, traditionally associated with divine possession and frenzied rites.
- ‘He (or she, for this god could be tantalizingly androgynous) is said to have come from the East, with his maenads, fauns, satyrs, and wine lunacy.’
- ‘They dance in imitation of maenads who associated with the god in the old days.’
- ‘In the context of the Counter-Reformation, there is also a fascinating echo here of the standard format of an altarpiece, with the satyrs and maenads at the foot of the painting taking the place normally occupied by donors.’
- ‘His following is made up of satyrs and sileni (amoral woodland creatures, basically human but with some animal characteristics) and maenads, who seem possessed or intoxicated.’
- ‘Dionysos and his satyrs, nymphs, and maenads are, of course, found everywhere in the ancient world, but they appear most frequently in dining rooms and gardens.’
Late 16th century: via Latin from Greek Mainas, Mainad-, from mainesthai ‘to rave’.
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