SNP’s word of the day: Sodality

Illustration by Lewis Mirrett
Illustration by Lewis Mirrett

Word: Sodality

Meaning: Companionship; a fraternity or society.

Usage: “It was the smile of recognition, or one that anticipates in late afternoon an “evening of shame:” — that is to say, pleasure, or, one of his favorite terms, “sodality.” — Ian McEwan on Christopher Hitchens (RIP) in the New York Times (reprinted in yesterday’s Globe and Mail)

You should know it because: Sodality is one of those cool, forgotten words I would never have told you about if I hadn’t read it in a fancy newspaper. It’s used mostly in a masculine sense, interchangeable with “fraternity” or “boy’s club” or even “mafia,” and even though that’s even more true of the way Hitchens, with his Hemingway-esque crew of very male writers, used it; still, it’s at heart a word for everyone. It’s funny, actually, that Hitchens used it: he is (was) a great atheist, as you know, but the etymology of “sodality” is distinctly Christian. Maybe he felt he was reclaiming it. For sure, I think you can have a spiritual brotherhood or sisterhood without being spiritual yourself; it’s what Anne of Green Gables simply called “kindred,” right?

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