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Olʹive (2 syl.)


Sacred to Pallas Atheʹnē. (See Olive-tree.)

Emblem of (1) Chastity. In Greece the newly-married bride wore an olivegarland; with us the orange-blossom is more usual.

(2) Fecundity. The fruit of the olive is produced in vast profusion; so that olive-trees are valuable to their owners. (See Orange-blossoms.)

(3) Merit. In ancient Greece a crown of olive-twigs was the highest distinction of a citizen who had deserved well of his country.

(4) Peace. An olive-branch was anciently a symbol of peace. The vanquished who sued for peace carried olive-branches in their hands. And an olive-twig in the hands of a king (on medals), as in the case of Numa, indicated a reign of peace.

To hold out the olive branch. To make overtures of peace.

(5) Prosperity. David says, “I am like a green olive-tree in the house of God” (Psalm lii. 8).

(6) Victory. The highest prize in the Olympic games was a crown of olive-leaves.

Origin of the olive-tree. The tale is, that Athēnē (Minerva) and Poseidon (Neptune) disputed the honour of giving a name to a certain city of Greece, and agreed to settle the question by a trial of which could produce the best gift for the new city. Athēnē commanded the earth to bring forth the olive-tree. Poseidon commanded the sea to bring forth the war-horse. Athēnē’s gift was adjudged the better, and the city was called Athens.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Oldcastle (Sir John)
Oldenburg Horn
Oldest Nation
Oleum Adde Camino
Olibrius (An)
Oligarchy [olly-gar-ky]
Olio or Oglio
Olive Branches
Oliver or Olivier
Olla Podrida
Olympia (in Orlando Furioso)
Olympian Jove

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Orange Blossoms Worn at Weddings