Each week The Sun’s John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word:
The administrative structure of the Persian Empire included governors of provinces, or satrapies. Such a governor was a satrap (pronounced SAY-trap). The English word comes from the Greek satrapes, which in turn was derived from the Persian xshahthrapavan.
Given the near-universal suspicion of bureaucracy, it did not take long for the meaning to broaden into the sense of any subordinate ruler, with a tinge of “despotic,” to a contemptuous “subordinate official or supporter, considered subservient,” a henchman. It is not a term of admiration.
Example: From “Found Guilty” in Time, December 19, 1960, after Hulan Jack, the Manhattan borough president, had been found guilty of corruption: “A teen-aged immigrant from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, he began his career at the end of a mop handle, as janitor for the Peerless Paper & Box Co., Inc. But politics was his real interest, and Jack soon earned a reputation as a loyal if lackluster satrap of Tammany Hall.”