Recognition: Info & Fun Facts – History of the word “Trophy”

In doing research for this blog of recognizing everyday greatness, I thought I’d start at the beginning. How did the trophy, the item used to recognize and commemorate greatness, get started? Where did it originate? What is the formal definition? So I searched the web for the answer. Following is what I found….

20070415-trophyLa Turbie

the word trophy (from Greek tropaion, from trope, “rout”), in ancient Greece, consisted of captured arms and standards hung upon a tree or stake in the semblance of a man and was inscribed with details of the battle along with a dedication to a god or gods. After a naval victory, the trophy, composed of whole ships or their beaks, was laid out on the nearest beach. To destroy a trophy was regarded as a sacrilege since, as an object dedicated to a god, it must be left to decay naturally. The Romans continued the custom but usually preferred to construct trophies in Rome, with columns or triumphal arches serving the purpose in imperial times. Outside Rome, there are remains of huge stone memorials, once crowned by stone trophies, built by Augustus in 7/6 BC at La Turbie,near Nice, France (pictured above – a rather large “trophy”?) and by Trajan c. AD 109 at Adamclisi in eastern Romania.

.. the online Etymology (history of words) dictionary says that 1513 was the first recording of the word “trophy” as “a spoil or prize of war,” from French trophée (15c.) from Latin trophæum “a sign of victory, monument,” originally tropæum, from Greek tropaion “monument of an enemy’s defeat,” from neut. of adj. tropaios “of defeat,” from trope “a rout,” originally “a turning” (of the enemy); see trope. Figurative extension to any token or memorial of victory is first recorded 1569. A fun fact is that the expression “Trophy wife” was first recorded in 1984.

… Encylopedia Britannica online defines the word trophy (from Greek tropaion, from trope, “rout”), in ancient Greece, memorial of victory set up on the field of battle at the spot where the enemy had been routed.

… As defined by Princeton University the definition of the word “Trophy” was an award for success in war or hunting; something given as a token of victory.

…davidrsear.com from its Roman glossary says, the arms of a vanquished enemy, attached to a vertical shaft with cross piece, set up to commemorate a notable victory and often appearing on coins with captives at its foot.

… dictionary.com’s definition is;

  1. anything taken in war, hunting, competition, etc., esp. when preserved as a memento; spoil, prize, or award;
  2. anything serving as a token or evidence of victory, valor, skill, etc.
  3. a carving, painting, or other representation of objects associated with or symbolic of victory or achievement.
  4.  any memento or memorial. 
  5.  a memorial erected by certain ancient peoples, esp. the Greeks and Romans, in commemoration of a victory in war and consisting of arms or other spoils taken from the enemy and hung upon a tree, pillar, or the like.

 … wikipedia, the free on-line encyclopedia, states a trophy is a reward for a specific accomplishment. They are most often awarded with sporting events. These range from youth sports through professional level athletics. Often, the reward of the trophy is not simply in winning it; rather, those who win it cherish the legacy that also comes with the trophy.

In looking for the history of the word “Trophy” I found the following in the following languages…

…from Greek the word was tropaion, from neuter of tropaios, of defeat, from tropē, a turning, rout

…from Latin the word was trophaeum, monument to victory, variant of tropaeum

…from Old French the word was trophee, and in French trophée

The noun “trophy”, defined by Kernerman English Multilingural Dictionary, is something which is kept in memory of a victory, success etc… in other languages the word “Trophy” looks like this:

…Arabic: غَنيمَه، نُصُب تِذْكاري…
Chinese (Simplified): 胜利纪念品…
Chinese (Traditional)… 勝利紀念品…
Czech: trofej…
Danish: trofæ…
Dutch: trofee…
Estonian: trofee…
Finnish: voitonmerkki…
French: trophée…
German: die Trophäe…
Greek: τρόπαιο…
Hungarian: trófea…
Icelandic: minnisvarði um sigur, minjagripur…
Italian: trofeo…
Japanese: 記念品…
Lithuanian: trofėjus…
Polish: trofeum…
Portuguese (Brazil): troféu…
Portuguese (Portugal): troféu…
Romanian: trofeu…
Russian: трофей…
Slovak: trofej…
Spanish: trofeo…
Swedish: trofé…
Turkish: yadigâr, hatıra.

In any language a trophy recognizes the everyday greatness that surrounds us.

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