Word of the Day

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

thigmotropism

[ thig-mo-truh-piz-uhm ]

noun

Biology. oriented growth of an organism in response to mechanical contact, as a plant tendril coiling around a string support.

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What is the origin of thigmotropism?

Thigmotropism is a very rare word, restricted to biology, especially botany. All three of the components of the word come from Greek: thígma means “a touch”; trópos and tropḗ are both nouns meaning “a turning, turn”; and -ism comes from the Greek suffixes -ismós, isma, used to form nouns denoting the result of an action. Thigmotropism entered English in the early 20th century.

how is thigmotropism used?

When touch is the stimulus, the response is thigmotropism. Positive thigmotropism occurs when a tendril touches an object and, by growing toward it, wraps around it.

James D. Mauseth, Botany: An Introduction to Plant Biology, 2009

Thigmotropism is what makes a vine curl around a stake or an epiphyte cling to a branch in the wild.

Deb Wandell, "Flora Grubb reinvents the plant stand with Thigmotrope Perch," San Francisco Chronicle, January 30, 2015
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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

turophile

[ toor-uh-fahyl, tyoor-, tur- ]

noun

a connoisseur or lover of cheese.

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What is the origin of turophile?

Turophile a rare word not only in meaning but also in its spelling. The combining form -phile is very common in English, but the combining form turo- is unique: it comes from the Greek noun tȳrós, which is nearly always Romanized as tyro-, as in the technical term tyrosine (an amino acid). Tȳrós comes from a complicated Proto-Indo-European root tēu, tewe, teu, “to swell, coagulate, be or become thick”: for the Greeks cheese was “thickened milk.” The Latin word būtȳrum “butter” is a borrowing from Greek boútyron “butter,” literally “cow cheese.” Būtȳrum “butter” was adopted by the West Germanic languages, e.g., Old English butere, English butter, Dutch boter, Old High German butera, and German Butter. Turophile entered English in the 20th century.

how is turophile used?

For any New York turophile … there is irritation, frustration and dismay when visiting most of the town’s restaurants whether grand luxe or bistro. The cheeses, if available at all, are more often than not overripe or underaged, too cold or too few …

Craig Claiborne, "Cheese Lover Dismayed by Restaurant Selection," New York Times, October 12, 1965

… as any turophile knows, microbes are the source of cheese’s vast diversity of flavors, textures, and smells.

Casey Quackenbush, "The FDA Is Coming Around to the Idea That Cheese, Microbes, and Mold Can Work Just Fine," Time, September 22, 2017
Monday, June 18, 2018

day-tripper

[ dey-trip-er ]

noun

a person who goes on a trip, especially an excursion, lasting all or part of a day but not overnight.

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What is the origin of day-tripper?

Day-tripper has been used in English since the mid-1800s.

how is day-tripper used?

… he seized on the word as if it might somehow help to plug him into German culture, rather like a day-tripper to Boulogne trying to convince himself that he has explored France.

William McIlvanney, The Kiln, 1996

Deepest mind in the galaxy, apparently, and you still express yourself like a day-tripper with a dog-eared phrase book.

Anthony Lane, "Space Case," The New Yorker, May 23, 2005

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