October 3, 2008
The word “podium” is one of the most misused terms in the public assembly world. It is common to hear this word misused in church, government, auditoria, and schools. The proper use of terms is one way of separating the professionals from the rest. Let’s consider the roots of each word:
The word podium comes from the Latin expression pes pedis meaning “foot”. Other terms such as podiatrist have the same root. Podium is the English version of the Latin term “podion” meaning “base”. Keep these root meanings in mind when considering the correct definition of this word:
Podium: An elevated platform, as for an orchestra conductor or public speaker.
The word lectern comes from the Latin lectus, past participle of legere meaning “to read”. Other terms such as lecture have the same root. Keep these root meanings in mind when considering the correct definition of this word:
Lectern: An upright desk or stand, usually with a slanted top, used to hold text or music for a public speaker.
Sadly the word podium has been so misused in the general public, that its definition has been altered in some dictionaries to incorrectly include the definition of lectern. In the professional world, the meanings of these words are quite different - you stand on a podium, you stand behind a lectern.