Word of the Day

Friday, February 15, 2019

onomastic

[ on-uh-mas-tik ]

adjective

of or relating to proper names.

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What is the origin of onomastic?

English onomastic comes straight from the Greek adjective and noun onomastikós, which has quite a few meanings: “pertaining to a name, naming, special name; (in grammar) nominative (case); vocabulary (organized by subject and not by letter).” Onomastikós is a derivative of the verb onomázein “to name, call by name,” itself a derivative of the noun ónoma, the Greek development of Proto-Indo-European nomen-, which appears in Latin as nōmen, Germanic (English) name, and Sanskrit nā́ma. One of the things that make Greek Greek is the presence of prothetic vowels (prothetic means “put in front”) at the beginning of a word, such as the o- in ónoma, the a- in ástron “star” (akin to English star and Latin stella, from assumed sterla), the e- in ennéa “nine” (Latin novem, Sanskrit náva). Some of the prothetic vowels can be explained according to Indo-European linguistics, others not; they are a source of endless research and speculation. Onomastic entered English in the 18th century.

how is onomastic used?

Today’s baseball rosters are filled with names, not nicknames, not like the ones that used to be. The N.B.A. playoffs are equally devoid of onomastic pleasures, just cheap echoes of Magic and the Mailman, Tiny and Tree, Chief and Cornbread.

John Branch, "Like Magic, Great Sports Nicknames Are Disappearing," New York Times, May 10, 2011

… the survey found that mothers’ top reason for onomastic discontent was that they hadn’t been bold enough …

Ruth Graham, "A Lot of Mothers Regret the Names They Gave Their Children, According to a New Survey," Slate, September 1, 2016
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Thursday, February 14, 2019

attractancy

[ uh-trak-tuhn-see ]

noun

the capacity, especially of a pheromone, to attract.

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What is the origin of attractancy?

Attractant is to attractance and attractancy as repellent is to repellence and repellency. Both sets of words are used mostly in biochemistry to describe chemicals, such as pheromones or insectifuges, that attract, drive away, or affect the behavior of other creatures. Attractancy entered English in the 20th century.

how is attractancy used?

From these various investigations it became very clear that numerous components of the cotton plant had some attractancy for the boll weevil, although their effects were often short-ranged.

Richard L. Ridgway, May N. Inscoe, and Willard A. Dickerson, "Role of the Boll Weevil Pheromone in Pest Management," Behavior-Modifying Chemicals for Insect Management, 1990

The attractancy of the brown-rot fungus was discovered by Dr. Glenn Esenther, an entomologist at the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin.

T. Allan Wolter, "Your Wayne National Forest," Sunday Times-Sentinel, July 27, 1975
Wednesday, February 13, 2019

synastry

[ si-nas-tree, sin-uh-stree ]

noun

Astrology. the comparison of two or more natal charts in order to analyze or forecast the interaction of the individuals involved.

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What is the origin of synastry?

English synastry is an astrological term coming ultimately from Greek synastría, a noun compounded of the Greek preposition and prefix syn, syn- “with,” completely naturalized in English, the Greek noun ástro(n) “star,” familiar in astronomy, astronaut, and astrology, and the abstract noun suffix -ia, which is also native to Latin, becoming the noun suffix -y in English. Synastry entered English in the 17th century.

how is synastry used?

… she matches people according to chart comparison, a branch of astrology called Synastry.

Rick Smith, "Astrologer makes matches in heavens," The Daily Reporter, April 9, 1984

I find this sad because the synastry was really pretty good.

Eugenia Last, "The Last Word in Astrology," The Register-Guard, June 7, 1997

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