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[ uh-pas-truhn, -tron ] [ əˈpæs trən, -trɒn ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


the point at which the stars of a binary system are farthest apart.

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More about apastron

Apastron, “the point at which binary stars are farthest apart,” is based on Ancient Greek apó “away, off, apart” and ástron “star, constellation.” Apó, which remains apo- in English before most consonants (as in apology) but becomes ap- before vowels and h (as in aphorism). Distant relatives of apó, all featuring a telltale labial (using the lips) consonant, include English after and off, Latin ab “away from,” and Sanskrit ápa “away, off.” Ástron is based on astḗr “star” (compare the recent Words of the Day asterism and astronaut), which is a cognate and synonym of English star and Latin stella (compare the recent Words of the Day circumstellar and stellate). Apastron was first recorded in English in the early 1840s.

how is apastron used?

[A]s their orbits are so eccentric that when at apastron the stars are twice as remote from each other as at periastron, they will for the next three and a half centuries continue to slacken their pace, until they shall have reached the most remote points of their orbits…

Thomas N. Orchard, The Astronomy of Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’, 1896

Owing to the great eccentricity of the orbits of double stars, such stars are anywhere from twice to nineteen times as near to each other at periastron as they are at “apastron,” or point of greatest departure.

Isabel Martin Lewis, Astronomy for Young Folks, 1922
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[ pla-steek ] [ plæˈstik ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a ballet technique for mastering the art of slow, controlled movement and statuelike posing.

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More about plastique

Plastique, “a ballet technique for mastering slow movement,” is the French cognate of plastic. Both terms come by way of Latin plasticus “moldable” from Ancient Greek plastikós, formed from plastós “formed, molded.” Plastós is based on the verb plássein (stem plath-) “to form, mold” and -tos, an adjective-forming suffix, with the change from the expected “plathtós” to the actual plastós perhaps for easier pronunciation. Other derivatives of plássein include plasma, plaster, rhinoplasty, and the recent Words of the Day plasticity and esemplastic. While plastic in English dates to circa 1630, plastique was first recorded in English circa 1800.

how is plastique used?

While this breadth of repertory is no longer uncommon for Kirov dancers, Ms. Vishneva is exceptional in her ability to put her supple plastique—her gloriously articulate back from which all movement appears to emanate, her elongated line in arabesque, her exquisitely fluid arms—at the service of the choreography.

Roslyn Sulcas, “Prima Ballerina With Supple Grace and a Will of Steel,” The New York Times, June 14, 2007

In dance terms, it is cerebral stuff, the choreographer mixing the classical vocabulary of movement with a variety of others; he is impressive too in his use of stasis and plastique, questioning whether motion is essential to dancing.

Gerald Dowler, “Ashton/Forsythe/Van Manen, Ballett am Rhein, Düsseldorf — review,” Financial Times, October 12, 2015
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[ jin-jer-lee ] [ ˈdʒɪn dʒər li ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


with great care or caution; warily.

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More about gingerly

Despite the similar spelling and pronunciation, gingerly “with great care or caution” has nothing to do with the spicy root ginger. Gingerly is of uncertain origin but may come from Middle French gensor “delicate, pretty” (from gent “gentle”) combined with English -ly, an adjective- and adverb-forming suffix. The ultimate source of gensor is either the Latin verb gignere (stem genit-) “to beget” or the Latin noun gēns (stem gent-) “race, people.” In contrast, ginger comes via Latin from Ancient Greek zingíberis, perhaps by way of Sanskrit śṛṅgaveram or Pali siṃgiveram from a Dravidian language; compare Malayalam and Tamil iñci “ginger.” Gingerly was first recorded in English in the 1510s.

how is gingerly used?

[A]s the full moon hangs in the frosty sky, hundreds of dancers file in darkness toward the foot of the craggy peaks at the head of the valley. Frozen tundra crunches underfoot as dancing shoes step gingerly over ice-covered rivulets.

Barbara Fraser, “Melting Andes Glaciers Worry Peru Indigenous Peoples,” Indian Country Today, July 18, 2011

I felt the arm gingerly through his shirt—no compound fractures. I rolled it up carefully for a better look …. I bit my lip, feeling gingerly down the swell of his biceps. He had one of the worst bruises I had ever seen.

Diana Gabaldon, Drums of Autumn, 1996
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