ucalegon is an English word meaning "A neighbour whose house is on fire". The fact that such a word actually exists has always been, to me, hilarious.

Source: Weird and Wonderful Words by Paul Hellweg, David & Charles 1986, ISBN 0-7153-9084-8.

Ucalegon's name was mentioned once in Homer's Illiad, and then only in passing. Homer called him a sage and fluent orator. Nothing was on fire (or was even in immediate danger of catching fire) at the time. I'm sure he was pleased.

In Book II of Virgil's Aeneid, we learn that Ucalegon had at some point in his life decided to take up residence in close proximity to Deiphobus, Hector's successor as the leader of the Trojan army.

Now, at the best of times that would probably be a bad idea -- but living next door to the Trojan commander during the sacking of Troy shows incredibly poor judgement on Ucalegon's behalf. Not very sage-like, if you ask me.

Deiphobus' palace went up in flames -- and Ucalegon's home burned soon after.

And yes, this word is listed in the OED, with the definition "a neighbor whose house is on fire".

Ucalegon's name isn't just a name; in Greek it means "not to have a care" (ouk = 'not', alego = 'to have a care', or 'to take heed'). The Greek Oukalegon becomes Ucalegon in Latin.


The shepherd climbs the cliff, and sees from far
The wasteful ravage of the wat'ry war.
Then Hector's faith was manifestly clear'd,
And Grecian frauds in open light appear'd.
The palace of Deiphobus ascends
In smoky flames, and catches on his friends.
Ucalegon burns next: the seas are bright
With splendor not their own, and shine with Trojan light.
Virgil, Aeneid 2.311.

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