I'm not happy with these 'happy' definitions

I have a confession to make: My English dictionary, Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary (Unabridged), has failed me. I'm unhappy with its definitions of "happy." Here they are:

"Happy -- adj,. from Icelandic happ, good luck, chance, hap. 2. having, showing or causing a feeling of great pleasure, joy, contentment, etc., joyous; glad; pleased; satisfied. 3. exactly appropriate to the occasion; suitable and clever; felicitous; apt. 4. intoxicated or as if intoxicated; sometimes used in hyphenated combinations, as slap-happy (slang)."

But that's missing something -- as I noticed when I re-read the fifth chapter of the book of Matthew. The third verse reads "Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

In French, that same verse reads "Heureux les pauvres en esprit, car le royaume des cieux est a eux!" Literally, that's "Happy the poor in spirit, because the kingdom of heaven (or "the skies") is theirs!"

"Blessed" evidently shares a root with "happy" which isn't showing in my own dictionary. I've tried looking at some online dictionaries, but they fail me, too. Still, I think it's a connection worth defending, especially as "the holiday season" gets underway.

"Holiday" in itself has obvious roots -- holy day.

So smile when someone wishes you "Happy Holidays!" Take it as a blessing.

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  • This one reminds me of the yoga instructor saying that some pose was a "funny little position," as in ha ha or peculiar.

    However, there was some preacher on Channel 62 who wrote all over glass panels and said when translating any New Testament Bible passage, one has to go back to the Aramaic or Greek, so theoretically one shouldn't rely on English or French.

  • In reply to jack:

    BTW, it took a long time for me to figure out to whom I was referring; it was Melissa Scott.

  • In reply to jack:

    Thanks, Jack. I wasn't relying on English or French for any but the usual reasons: They're the languages I know best. If I understand my pastors properly, Aramaic is a dialect of Hebrew, and I do remember them saying (not just preaching) that Hebrew has the same connection between "happy" and "blessed." I think that's the connection I was reaching for, and I am happy, in both senses, that you brought it up. (Can it be that I wasn't Serious enough? Gasp!)

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    Not current Hebrew. With my understanding of prayers, Boruch is Blessed or Praised and Ashrei is Happy.

    You are correct that Hebrew and Aramaic are related (as discussed with regard to Kaddish, which is in Aramaic), but I was relying more on the theory that Aramaic was the language of Jesus's time.

    Melissa Scott's premise was digging into all of these linguistic differences.

  • In reply to jack:

    Thank you, Jack. I appreciate your explanations.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    Reference for Kaddish including the Aramaic and Hebrew equivalents for the initial word.

  • You can wish me Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, whatever! I listen to the greeting of love!

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    Thank you, Kathy. Wisely and beautifully put. Happy Christmas.

  • Pairing 'happy' and 'blessed' reminded me of Pope's "Solitude":

    "Happy the man, whose wish and care
    A few paternal acres bound,
    Content to breath his native air
    In his own ground." stanza 1

    "Blest, who can unconcernedly find
    Hours, days, and years slide soft away
    In health of body, peace of mind;
    Quiet by day." stanza 3

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