Origin of the “Plutus” in Plutus Awards

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked about the Plutus Awards is not who’s going to take the BLOG OF THE YEAR crown from Get Rich Slowly this year or which company told a large number of employees to vote for its product last year. The biggest question is regarding the origin of the name, “Plutus Awards.”

The “Awards” part is fairly easy to figure out.

“Plutus” may be a little more obscure. In modern English, the prefix pluto- is often used to mean money or wealth, such as in the word plutocracy.. The immediate thought may be that this meaning is somehow related to the Greek mythological god, Pluto (Πλούτων).

Pluto was the ruler of the underworld, and therefore keeper of all things evil. And as well all know, money is evil; therefore, there is a connection between our word and the Greek god. A second connection, or first connection if you’re not on board with the idea that money is evil, might be the fact that wealth, in the form of precious minerals, came from beneath the surface of the earth, the domain of Pluto.

These ideas lead people today to conflate Pluto with the lesser-known Greek god called Plutus (Πλοῦτος). Plutus, not Pluto, was the god of wealth. Even in back in ancient Greece, there was considerable confusion between these two mythological figures, so you have an excuse if you thought Pluto was the Greek god of wealth (as I did, before creating the Plutus Awards).

Through a trick of etymology, our pluto- prefix in English comes from Plutus, not Pluto. As personal finance blogs are generally focused on money-related issues, it was appropriate to choose the Greek god of wealth as an inspiration for this set of awards.

If the awards were named the “Pluto Awards,” it would sound more like we were honoring a Disney character or paying respect to the former ninth planet of the solar system.

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1 Comment

Khaleef @ KNS Financial · August 4, 2011 at 9:44 pm

I wondered where you got the name from. I was kind of hoping it was Greek.

Seeing you write out the names in Greek characters really makes me miss studying and reading ancient Greek regularly.

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