Word of the Day

Word of the day

Sunday, January 02, 2022

autosomal

[ aw-tuh-soh-muhl ]

adjective

occurring on or transmitted by a chromosome other than one of the sex chromosomes.

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What is the origin of autosomal?

Autosomal “occurring on a chromosome other than one of the sex chromosomes” is the adjectival form of autosome “a chromosome other than a sex chromosome,” a compound of the combining forms auto- “self, same” and -some “body.” Auto- comes from Ancient Greek autós “self,” of uncertain ultimate origin, while -some comes from Ancient Greek sôma “body,” the stem of which is sōmat-, as in somatic. While sôma refers to a body generally, nekrós (as in necropolis and necrotic) refers specifically to a dead body. Autosomal was first recorded in English in the early 20th century.

how is autosomal used?

Even if you are a descendant of Shakespeare, there is only a negligible chance [that you have] any of his DNA. This is because autosomal DNA gets passed on randomly …. Within 10 generations, Shakespeare’s DNA has spread out and recombined so many times that it doesn’t even really make sense to speak of a match. Putting the same point the other way, each of us has so many ancestors that … we don’t share any DNA with the vast majority of them.

Alva Noë, “Can You Tell Your Ethnic Identity From Your DNA?” NPR, February 12, 2016

What cannot be so quickly learned is how to compare two autosomal DNA profiles and understand what the overlapping fragments are hinting at, knowing which branch of a tree to focus on or seeing how these pieces will fit together to identify the unknown person. Mr. Holes said that genetic genealogists like Ms. Rae-Venter, “are worth their weight in gold,” because “they understand the DNA testing and DNA inheritance and the genealogy aspects,” which is rare to find in a single person.

Heather Murphy, "She Helped Crack the Golden State Killer Case. Here’s What She’s Going to Do Next." New York Times, August 29, 2018

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Saturday, January 01, 2022

revitalize

[ ree-vahyt-l-ahyz ]

verb (used with object)

to give new vitality or vigor to.

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What is the origin of revitalize?

Revitalize “to give new vitality or vigor to” is a compound of the prefix re- “again, back” and the verb vitalize “to give life to.” Vitalize, in turn, is formed from vital “of or relating to life” and the verbal suffix -ize. Vital, from Latin vītālis, comes from the Latin noun vīta “life,” which is derived from the same Proto-Indo-European root, gwei- “to live,” that is also the source of English quick (from Old English cwic “living”), Latin vīvere “to live” (as in vivacious and vivid), Ancient Greek bíos “life” (as in amphibian and biotic), and Ancient Greek zôion “animal” (as in protozoa and zodiac). Revitalize was first recorded in English in the late 1850s.

how is revitalize used?

In Canada, on the coastal fjords of British Columbia, within the Great Bear Rainforest, lies a swath of land the size of Ireland that protects thousand-year-old trees and the rarest bear in the world. Within it, Spirit Bear Lodge—owned and operated by the Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation—welcomes visitors from all over the world whose dollars revitalize local communities and fund further conservation, including a successful effort to stop bear hunts …. Douglas Neasloss, chief councilor of the Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation …. [says,] “We’ve been able to revitalize our culture and create a sustainable business model where we’re not pulling out a fish or cutting down a tree.”

Norie Quintos, “Should some of the world’s endangered places be off-limits to tourists?” National Geographic, October 12, 2021

The partnership between the tribe and university helped create the Myaamia Center located on the Miami campus. Center founder Daryl Baldwin of the Myaamia tribe and others revitalized a language that was declared dead in the 1960s. Since the center’s beginnings in 2001, the program has set the bar for Indigenous language and cultural revitalization, winning support from the National Science Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation and others.

Mary Annette Pember, "Myaamia tribe commemorates forced removal 175 years ago," Indian Country Today, October 18, 2021

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Friday, December 31, 2021

golem

[ goh-luhm, -lem ]

noun

a figure artificially constructed in the form of a human being and endowed with life.

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What is the origin of golem?

Golem “a figure constructed in the form of a human and endowed with life” is a borrowing by way of Yiddish goylem from Hebrew gōlem “embryo, larva, cocoon.” This Hebrew noun is a derivative of the verb l’galēm “to embody,” from the Semitic root glm “to cut, separate.” In Jewish folklore, a golem is a humanlike being created from raw material such as clay and brought to life to perform a specific duty or task. Golem was first recorded in English in the late 1890s.

how is golem used?

First mentioned in ancient Jewish texts, a golem is an artificial being made from mud or other inanimate material that’s brought to life through the power of Hebrew letters. It became popular and known outside Judaism in a famous story about the sixteenth-century Rabbi Judah Loew who is said to have created a golem out of clay in the hope it would help protect the Jews of Prague from persecution. However, the golem has a dark side, too. It often spins out of control and its superhuman powers can become a threat to the one who created it.

Kristen Grieshaber, “Berlin’s Jewish Museum opens show on mystic golem creature,” AP News, September 22, 2016

The most famous legend of the golem was of the one created in Prague by rabbi and kabbalist Judah Loew (1525–1609) …. The Golem of Prague directly inspired Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel “Frankenstein.” While the specifics of the settings and characters may differ, the stories share points of similarity …. Hal 9000, the sen­tient supercomputer in “2001,” is the ulti­mate golem. Like the Golem of Prague and Frankenstein, HAL gains inde­pen­dence from his cre­ators…

Nathan Abrams, "Why Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001’ is the ultimate golem story," Forward, July 7, 2020
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