The ship arrived from a city called Sin, and it was going back. I’d never experienced surge or spray or new scenery, so I signed up.
They put me in charge of flogging the rowers. Difficult at first, but I soon smothered my squeamishness and developed my arm muscles. After a while, I started taking pride in my technique.
I was thinking about sin the other day, because I was thinking about preaching, because I was reading P.B. Shelley. From the concept of sin, I wandered over to the word itself.
I don’t know how far I agree with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and I don’t know what other languages are like, but maybe it says something about Anglophones that we don’t have an antonym for sin, either as a noun (“a sin”) or a verb (“to sin”). We have virtue, but that’s the opposite of sinfulness. We don’t virtue, and we don’t commit a virtue. We have common phrases, like “a good deed” or “doing good,” but no single-word contrary.
But is the single-word criterion irrelevant? We learn spoken language before written, and we speak in phrases, not words. If I read the first clause of this post out loud as I would naturally say it, and listen carefully, what I hear is word-clusters, not individual words: Iwasthinking aboutsin theotherday.
There are times, though, when a single word for good deeds or doing good would be useful. Might I coin one?
“Virtue” comes from the Latin vir, “man,” which is also the root (no pun intended) of “virile.” For the opposite of “sin,” I offer “femin,” from the Latin femina, “woman.”
There! Now I’ve done my femin for the day.