a misapplied or inappropriate name or designation.
Misnomer “a misapplied or inappropriate name or designation” comes by way of Middle English and Anglo-French from the Middle French verb mesnomer “to misname,” which is a compound of the prefix mes- “not” and the verb nomer “to name.” Despite the common misconception that mes- is the French cognate of Spanish menos- and derives from Latin minus “smaller,” it is likely that mes- is in fact of Germanic origin and related to the English verb miss “to fail to hit or reach.” The verb nomer comes from Latin nōmināre “to name, call by name,” which is also the source of denominator, nominate, and even renown. Misnomer was first recorded in English in the mid-15th century.
It’s a well-known fact among entomologists that whoever first named the millipede was being a touch dramatic. The name means “thousand-footed,” but no millipede has a thousand feet. At least, that was true until now. A discovery deep below the surface of Australia has shown that “millipede” isn’t always a misnomer. Researchers found a new species that can have more than 1,300 legs.
Ghost towns tend to start as boomtowns, and contemporary China more than likely has more boomtowns than any other country in history …. This rapid growth has resulted in [a] peculiar side effect: ghost cities, everywhere. Although the term “ghost town” is technically a misnomer in this case. A ghost town is a place that has become economically defunct—in other words, a place that has died. What China has is the opposite of ghost towns: It has new cities that have yet to come to life.
the series of small, jerky movements of the eyes when changing focus from one point to another.
Saccade “the series of small movements of the eyes when changing focus” is a borrowing of French saccade “a jerking movement, movement of a horseman who abruptly pulls the reins,” which derives from Middle French saquer “to pull violently,” a variant of Old French sachier. Though the connection is not certain, the prevailing theory is that sachier comes from the noun sac “bag, sack,” perhaps reflecting an early sense of sachier such as “to withdraw from a sack.” French sac derives via Latin saccus from Ancient Greek sákkos “bag made from goat hair,” which is likely borrowed from a Semitic source. It is rather common to find loanwords from Semitic languages (such as Arabic, Hebrew, and Phoenician) in Ancient Greek as the result of centuries of trade; whenever you read the words arsenic, crocus, cumin, lotus, myrrh, and sapphire, you’re looking at the remnants of Semitic influence on Ancient Greek. Saccade was first recorded in English in the 1720s.
Human eyes perform … jiggles, more formally called “saccades,” in response to a change in the field of vision. Our eyes quickly scan the surroundings and then send the data to the brain. Youthful eyes jiggle regularly to take in new or unfamiliar stimuli. As the person attached to those eyes ages, the eye muscles grow slower and the pathways between the eye and the brain grow longer, more complex, or, in some cases, damaged. In all, this means the brain receives less input over the course of a day. But by a certain age, the brain has grown accustomed to a certain amount of stimuli, and the relatively small amount received in old age leaves a person with the feeling that a day has ended too soon.
There’s a handy trick for reading station signs that otherwise fly past in a blur as you travel in a high-speed train. Look at one side of the window and then immediately at the other side of the window. When you change your gaze, your eyes will automatically make a rapid jerking movement, known as a saccade. If the direction of the saccade is the same as that of the train, your eyes will freeze the image for a split second, long enough to read the station name if you time things right …. The image of the station name becomes visible because it is traveling at the same speed as the eye, and the images before and after the saccade are blurred and so don’t interfere with the image of the sign. This shows us that our vision is still working when our eyes move rapidly during saccades.
the meal that Muslims eat after sunset during Ramadan to break the day’s fast.
Iftar “the meal that Muslims eat after sunset during Ramadan to break the day’s fast” is a borrowing of Arabic ʾifṭār “the breaking of the fast,” a verbal form of the noun ʾafṭara “to have breakfast, break a fast,” which is based on the same Arabic stem, fṭr, found in the holiday name Eid al-Fitr (from Arabic ʿīd al-fiṭr “festival of the breaking of the fast”). Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew base much of their vocabulary on three-consonant stems, and the Arabic stem fṭr (spelled fā, ṭā, rā) is cognate to the Hebrew stem pṭr (spelled pe, teth, resh), which is also found in Hebrew words relating to breaking, ending, or splitting. One example of this Hebrew stem is found in the word Haftarah, which is a portion of a text that was once recited at the conclusion of a Jewish liturgical service. Iftar was first recorded in the early 1830s.
For those of us not observing Ramadan but are blessed to have friends who are, now is the time for an invitation to partake in a fabulous home-cooked feast. During the holy month which runs until the end of July, Muslims fast during the day, then break the fast at dusk with a lavish meal called Iftar. From a slow-cooked goat meat stew called Nihari to desserts flavoured with cardamom, pine kernels and apricots, Iftar is a feast for the senses. Families usually cook special Iftar recipes rarely found outside their homes. Most have been collected over generations, others are carved out of unique bonds and circumstance.
When Rida Hamida approached a mosque with the idea of breaking Ramadan fast with a taco truck, she faced a tough sell. When it comes to the evening iftar—the dinner Muslims share after a day’s fasting in Ramadan—the Muslim population in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, is accustomed to traditional Arabic and South Asian biryani meals, with rice and meat kebabs. But besides being immediately gratifying and accessible, Hamida thought, the taco would also bring Orange County’s Latino and Muslim communities together. So she made a proposal: She’d bring a taco truck to the mosque to serve halal tacos, while the mosque’s leader provided biryani.
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