One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Used to refer to poetic or literary inspiration.
- ‘His hoof created the spring Hippocrene when it touched the earth.’
- ‘Mr Bull has drawn from the Hippocrene spring to refresh a subject that seemed stale, and his book is as witty, sexy and absorbing as his subject.’
Early 17th century: via Latin from Greek Hippokrēnē, Hippou krēnē, literally ‘fountain of the horse’ (from hippos ‘horse’ + krēnē ‘fountain’), the name of a fountain on Mount Helicon sacred to the Muses, which according to legend was produced by a stroke of Pegasus' hoof.
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