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Word Of The Week
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 09, 2022
a word or phrase that is a seemingly logical alteration of another word or phrase that sounds similar and has been misheard or misinterpreted.
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WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF EGGCORN?
Eggcorn “a seemingly logical alteration of a misheard word or phrase” is a coinage by linguistics professor Geoffrey K. Pullum based on the word acorn. The logic here is that people unfamiliar with the term acorn (from Old English æcern) may mistake the word as a compound of egg and corn because of acorns’ size and shape. An eggcorn is a type of folk etymology based on an honest mistake, as we saw in the etymology for the recent Word of the Day armscye, which is often incorrectly believed to come from “arm’s eye,” after the location and shape of an armscye. What makes something an eggcorn is that, unlike folk etymology proper, which results in a change to a word or phrase based on a nearly universal misconception, eggcorns tend to reflect common mistakes at the individual level—no matter how widespread these mistakes may be—that do not change the spelling of the mistaken word or phrase. Also important is that eggcorns are based on logical misunderstandings, so not every gross misspelling on the average social media feed qualifies as an eggcorn. While eggcorn is attested as early as the early 19th century, its present sense dates from 2003.
HOW IS EGGCORN USED?
Whether step foot in is, or originally was, an eggcorn has been hotly but inconclusively debated. However, no one argues that set foot in is anything other than standard English. So step foot in is one of those phrases that we’re probably better off not using even though there’s little reason to object if others use them.
BARBARA WALLRAFF, “WORD COURT,” THE ATLANTIC, SEPTEMBER 2006
New York Times columnist Frank Bruni wrote …. “the Congress we’re about to get will be its [predecessor’s] spit and image: familiar faces, timeworn histrionics, unending paralysis.” Spit and image? …. Did Bruni just drop an eggcorn in America’s journal of record? …. As Language Log points out, he didn’t drop (lay?) an eggcorn at all. In fact, “spit and image” is the older version of the expression. Both may be alterations of an earlier form, “spitten image.”
DAVID SHARIATMADARI, “THAT EGGCORN MOMENT,” THE GUARDIAN, SEPTEMBER 16, 2014
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SYNONYM OF THE DAY
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Word of the Week
[ dahy-uh–spawr-ik, ‐spor-ik ]
of, being, or relating to any group that has been dispersed outside its traditional homeland, either involuntarily or by migration.
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WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF DIASPORIC?
Diasporic “of or relating to any group that has been dispersed outside its traditional homeland” is formed from the Ancient Greek noun diasporá “scattering, dispersion,” from the preposition diá “through, across” and the noun sporá “sowing, seed,” the latter from the verb speírein “to sow.” This verb comes from the Proto-Indo-European root sper- “to strew,” which is also the source of English spread, spritz, and sprout as well as Ancient Greek spérma “seed” (compare sperm) and sporás “strewn, scattered” (compare sporadic). Another possible cognate of diasporic is Latin spargere “to scatter,” the source of words such as aspersion, disperse, and sparse. Diasporic was first recorded in English in the early 1800s.
HOW IS DIASPORIC USED?
During the early days of Cahokia, around 1050, emissaries from the city traveled north to sites in what is now Wisconsin, spurring the local creation of platform mounds and sculpted landscapes similar to those in the Cahokian heartland .… In each place where Cahokians remade themselves, they contended with local communities, as well as their individual memories of their homeland. Cahokian migrants made houses that mimicked those at home; they built according to celestial alignments from home; and in diasporic settings, they made iconographic designs honoring mythic heroes from their homeland.JAYUR MEHTA, “CAHOKIAN CULTURE SPREAD ACROSS EASTERN NORTH AMERICA 1,000 YEARS AGO IN AN EARLY EXAMPLE OF DIASPORA,” CONVERSATION, OCTOBER 30, 2020
Word of the Week
Diabetic Word Of The Week
Usually refers to diabetes mellitus or, less often, to diabetes insipidus. Diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus share the name “diabetes” because they are both conditions characterized by excessive urination (polyuria).
The word “diabetes” is from the Greek word meaning “a siphon” because people with diabetes “passed water like a siphon.”
When “diabetes” is used alone, it refers to diabetes mellitus. The two main types of diabetes mellitus — insulin-requiring type 1 diabetes and adult-onset type 2 diabetes — are distinct and different diseases in themselves.
Word Of The Week
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2021
an irrational or disproportionate fear of night or nighttime darkness.
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WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF NYCTOPHOBIA?
Nyctophobia “fear of night or nighttime darkness” is a compound of the combining forms nycto- “night” and -phobia “fear.” Nycto- derives from Ancient Greek nýx, of the same meaning, and comes from the same Proto-Indo-European root, nekwt-, found in English night, German nacht, and the Latin-derived terms equinox and nocturnal. In Greek mythology, Nyx was the primordial goddess and personification of nighttime who mated with Erebus, the god of darkness, to create Aether, the god of the upper air, and Hemera, the goddess of daytime. The ending -phobia is commonly used to indicate fear, and the opposite is -philia; while nyctophobia is fear of darkness, nyctophilia is love of darkness. The ending –phobia derives from Ancient Greek phóbos “fear” (but originally “flight”), which is related to Latin fugere “to flee,” as in fugitive. Nyctophobia was first recorded in English in the early 1890s.
HOW IS NYCTOPHOBIA USED?
[F]rightening words and concepts repeated over a period of time during childhood will have long-lasting neurological and emotional consequences. Nyctophobia, a pathological fear of night and darkness, might be an extreme example of such a consequence. Yet even the most protected children sometimes believe that there’s a monster under the bed at night or a ghost outside the window in the darkness. Nor do adults stop being afraid of venturing into Central Park at night, even when they’re presented with rational and incontrovertible facts about its relative safety after dark.MARIE WINN, CENTRAL PARK IN THE DARK, 2008
“But wasn’t it dark inside the trunk?” Nora asked. “If Ashley had nyctophobia she wouldn’t have climbed in there” …. He shook his head. “I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t recognize the Ashley I knew in any of this, this witch we’ve been tracking. Curses on the floor? Nyctophobia? Ashley wasn’t afraid of the dark. She wasn’t afraid of anything.”MARISHA PESSL, NIGHT FILM, 2014
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