DRACHMA \DRAK.muh\ n. a former monetary unit of Greece, pl. -S, -E, or -I
As you can see, the word that actually appears on drachma currency is ΔΡΑΧΜΗ
. This is where you get a little reward for taking the time to learn the Greek Alphabet
a little while ago when we covered the Greek letter ETA
The drachma has been used several times throughout Greek history, making its last appearance in 2002 when it was replaced by the euro.
In modern Greece, the drachma was subdivided into a unit called a LEPTON , worth 1/100th of a drachma. Lepton comes from the Greek leptos, meaning ‘small’, and was originally used to denote a small coin used in ancient times. Since then it has been used to subdivide whatever currency is in vogue. Even today, the lepton is Greece’s name for the euro-cent.
The 50 lepta coin below was printed when the lepton represented 1/100th of a PHOENIX, the basic Greek currency unit in use just before the modern drachma made its reappearance…
In the 20th century, the particle physicists also decided to use this term to represent a family of elementary particles. In the currency context, the usual plural is LEPTA
, while in the physics context the usual plural is LEPTONS
But back to the drachma…
In ancient Greece, the drachma was divided into six OBOLI (sing. OBOLUS ) and it in turn divided the MINA into 100 parts. (Obolus also has the variant OBOL , pl. OBOLS)
There’s a lot more I could say about today’s word, but I’ll just throw in one more random tidbit. The plural DRACHMAI has the anagram CHADARIM, which is a plural of CHEDER, a Jewish school.
And one final tidbit for Collins/CSW/SOWPODS players. You get to play the unpronouncable MNA, a variant of the MINA I mentioned earlier.