Today’s Word: HOPE

I was late to work this morning. Rather than fighting through the whiteout that has descended on downtown Tacoma in fog-form, I was sitting with my husband on the couch, watching our 44th president take oaths and take office.

Yes, there is a lot of work to do. There always is. And, like the man says, the work he wants to lead, encourage, and support might not happen in this term. It might not happen in the next, should a next term be granted.

But precisely because he is so aware, so forthright in reminding us all that we (including him) have to work for it, grow up, live up to each other’s expectations… that’s what makes me a little giddy today. Change has already come, with a voice this 20-something citizen hasn’t heard before (or remembers hearing) in politics that reminds us to serve one another, to be the builders and creators of change, and to return to the “old truths” that have always, “quietly” brought us forward in life, no matter where your beliefs lie.

“Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.”

President Obama, in your honor (and with thanks to Merriam-Webster, Encyclopedia Britannica,, Theoi Greek Mythology,, and the ever-present, ever-shifting Wikipedia), here’s a little shakedown on a word that has carried you so far already. May it take us all as far as we let it.


Middle English, from Old English hopian; akin to Middle High German hoffen, to hope.
Date: Before 12th Century Verb To wish for something with expectation of it’s fulfillment.

Verb: To hope
To cherish a desire with anticipation.
To look forward with confidence or expectation.
To look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.
To intend, with some possibility of fulfillment.
To believe, desire, or trust.
To expect and desire.
Archaic. To have confidence, trust.

Noun: Hope
A wish or desire accompanied by confident expectation of its fulfillment.
One that is the source or reason for hope.
The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.
Grounds for the feeling (above) in a particular instance.
Christianity. One of three theological virtues: “These three remain: Faith, Hope, and Charity (/Love).” As a virtue, Hope carries a connotation of being aware of a spiritual truth. Hope is defined as the desire and search for a future good; difficult but not impossible to attain with God’s help.

Synonyms: expect (v), trust (n,v) [although apparently archaic], reliance (n)

“Hopefulness” is somewhat different from “optimism” in that hope is an emotional state, whereas optimism is a conclusion reached through a deliberate thought pattern that leads to a positive attitude. [In the same paragraph, a contrasting statement, and also food for thought:]… Hope is not a physical emotion, but a spiritual grace. (Wikipedia)

Encyclopedia Britannica: “Hope”
In Christian thought, one of the three theological virtues, the others being faith and charity (love). [Hope] is distinct from the latter two because it is directed exclusively toward the future, as fervent desire and confident expectation. When hope has attained its object, it ceases to be hope and becomes possession. Consequently, whereas “love never ends,” hope is confined to man’s life on Earth.
The ancient Greeks used the term hope (elpis) in reference to an ambiguous, open-ended future; but the Resurrection of Jesus Christ gave the term, for Christians, a positive expectation and a moral quality. Throughout the New Testament, Christian hope is closely tied to the ultimate hope of the return of Jesus Christ as the judge of the living and the dead. Yet this eschatological hope does not eliminate intermediate hopes for lesser goods, even for material blessings.

Elpis... Hope

Elpis... Hope

Mythology: Elpis
ELPIS was the spirit (daimona) of hope. She, along with the other daimones, was trapped in a jar by Zeus and entrusted to the care of the first woman, Pandora. When she opened the vessel, all of the spirits escaped except for Elpis (Hope) who alone remained to comfort mankind. Elpis was depicted as a young woman carrying flowers in her arms. Her opposite number was Moros, spirit of hopelessness and doom. (Read more about Hope/Elpis at “Theoi Greek Mythology: Exploring Mythology in Classical Literature and Art.”)


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