Word of the Day

Saturday, May 04, 2019

organon

[ awr-guh-non ]

noun

an instrument of thought or knowledge.

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What is the origin of organon?

The Greek noun órganon means “tool, instrument, sensory organ, body part, musical instrument (whence the English name of the musical instrument), surgical instrument, table of calculations, (a concrete) work, work product, and a set of principles for conducting scientific and philosophical work.” This last meaning first occurs in the works of the Peripatetic philosopher Alexander of Aphrodisias, who lived in the late 2nd and early 3rd centuries a.d. and was the most famous ancient Greek commentator on Aristotle. Órganon is a derivative of the Greek root erg-, org– (also dialectal werg-, worg-), from the Proto-Indo-European root werg-, worg-; the Germanic form of this root is werk-, whence English work. Organon in its sense “bodily organ” entered English in the late 16th century; the philosophical sense entered English in the early 17th century.

how is organon used?

… for genuine proof in concrete matter we require an organon more delicate, versatile, and elastic than verbal argumentation.

John Henry Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, 1870

It [logic] thus sunk into the position of an Organon or instrument.

William Wallace, Prolegomena to the Study of Hegel's Philosophy and Especially of His Logic, 2nd ed., 1894
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Friday, May 03, 2019

vigesimal

[ vahy-jes-uh-muhl ]

adjective

of, relating to, or based on twenty.

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What is the origin of vigesimal?

The English adjective vigesimal comes from the Latin adjectives vīgēsimus and vīcēsimus (also vīcēnsimus) “twentieth.” There is an obvious connection in meaning between the adjectives and the Latin numeral vīgintī “twenty,” but there is also an obvious difficulty in form. The fluctuation between –g– and –c– in the Latin words has never been satisfactorily explained, as the expected Latin form would be vīcintī. Vigesimal entered English in the 17th century.

how is vigesimal used?

Maya numeral systems were vigesimal (base twenty), counted by twenties, four hundreds, eight thousands, and so on, rather than by tens, hundreds, and thousands as in a decimal system.

Robert J. Sharer with Loa P. Traxler, The Ancient Maya, 6th ed., 2006

Portland is making vigorous preparations for the vigesimal or twentieth anniversary celebration of the founding of the Christian Endeavor Society ….

"State Items," The Lewiston Daily Sun, January 22, 1901
Thursday, May 02, 2019

bombinate

[ bom-buh-neyt ]

verb

to make a humming or buzzing noise.

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What is the origin of bombinate?

The verb bombinate comes from Latin bombināre “to buzz,” a possible variant or corruption of bombilāre, bombitāre, or bombīre “to buzz, hum,” all derivatives of the noun bombus “a buzzing, humming.” The Latin verbs and noun ultimately come from Greek bómbos “a humming, buzzing” and its various derivative verbs. The specific form bombināre is apparently a coinage by the French satirist François Rabelais (c1494–1553) in a Renaissance Latin parody of scholastic Latin in the Middle Ages. Bombinate entered English in the second half of the 19th century.

how is bombinate used?

… and then we were off, climbing rapidly to a couple of thousand feet, then making course west, bombinating over the voes (small fjords) and sounds that fretwork the Shetland coastline.

Will Self, "Inching Along the Edge of the World," New York Times, October 23, 2008

As Olga’s rosy soul … bombinates in the damp dark at the bright window of my room, comfortably Krug returns unto the bosom of his maker.

Vladimir Nabokov, "Introduction," Bend Sinister, 1964

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