Books have to be heavy because the world's inside them. - Cornelia Funke
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The Real Meaning of "Prodigal"
Occasionally I'll come across a word definition that leaves me gobsmacked. Imagine my astonishment when I learned the real meaning of the word "prodigal" in my recent meanderings through literature. (It comes up twice in Count of Monte Cristo.) I've been raised on Bible stories since babyhood and have a degree in theology so you'd think I would have known what it really means. In common (incorrect) usage a "prodigal" is someone who leaves and then returns. In actuality it means: someone who is wastefully extravagant. It makes perfect sense in the context of the story of the Prodigal Son. But it makes even more sense to say that his father was "prodigal" because he was wildly lavish with his forgiveness and grace. I'll say it again, I'm astonished!
prodigious - impressively great in size, enormous
prodigy - a person with exceptional talent or powers