Saturday, July 31, 2010


Sandi wrote that she was listening to some old Frank Sinatra albums the other night, and she heard a word in one of the lyrics that stumped her. It showed up in the song Come Dance With Me: “What an evening for some terpsichore.”

Terpsichore was one of the nine Greek muses, and her venue was dance. Her name came from two Greek words — τέρπω (delight) and χoρός (dance). In time, the word came to mean the art of the dance.

Terpsichore is properly pronounced turp-sick-uh-ree, so when I found a sound clip of the song online, I was surprised to hear Frank pronouncing it as turp-si-core. It certainly looks like that’s the way it would sound, but its Greek origin militates against that. I don’t know if Sinatra was at fault or if the songwriters (Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn) were.

In context, we have “Come dance with me, come dance with me, what an evening for some Terpsichore.” My take is that “some Terpsichore” was meant to rhyme with “come dance with me.” However, if Van Heusen and Cahn thought that turp-si-core was correct, then they may have rhymed it with “what an evening for.”

Can any student of music clarify this?

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Arbutus Press
or at

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.

Visit The Senior Corner at



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Dona Sheehan's prints