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[ trich-uh-reyt ] [ ˈtrɪtʃ əˌreɪt ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

verb (used with object)

to reduce to fine particles or powder by rubbing, grinding, bruising, or the like; pulverize.

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What is the origin of triturate?

Triturate “to reduce to powder by grinding” comes from Late Latin trītūrātus, the past participle of the verb trītūrāre “to thresh, rub, crush,” which is the frequentative of the verb terere, of the same meaning. (To learn more about frequentative verbs, check out our recent Word of the Day dauntless.) Terere is also the source of English terms such as contrite and detriment, and distantly related to terere are numerous words in Indo-European languages somewhat related to rubbing, turning, and similar actions. From Latin triō “plow ox” comes the recent Word of the Day septentrion, while Ancient Greek tórnos “tool for making circles” gives us attorney, contour, detour, and turn. Because Latin t tends to correspond to English th, native English relatives of triturate include thrash, thread, threshold, and throw; compare the recent Words of the Day togated and transcendental. Triturate was first recorded in English circa 1620.

how is triturate used?

When well triturated, the mixture is to be dissolved in about two ounces of proof spirits (good whiskey) and put into a tall vial, such as eau-de-Cologne bottle …. If … the weather [is] promising to be fine, all the solid part of the composition which appears in the glass will be closely collected at the bottom, and the liquid above will be quite clear; but on the approach, of a change to rain, the solid matter will appear gradually to rise, and small crystalline stars will be observed to float.

G. M. Hallowell, “Storm Indicator,” Scientific American, July 16, 1853

“But to get this oil you’re using now you triturate and distill the oil-free meal of bitter almonds—”

Triturate?” Andy didn’t want to put Maclain on the spot, but he couldn’t help breaking in.

“Pulverize,” Steve explained admiringly. “Yes, that’s it, sir.”

Baynard Kendrick, Frankincense and Murder, 1961
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[ flaj-uh-let, -ley ] [ ˌflædʒ əˈlɛt, -ˈleɪ ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a small end-blown flute with four finger holes in front and two in the rear.

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What is the origin of flageolet?

Flageolet “a small end-blown flute” comes from Old French flajolet, which comprises flajol “flute” and the diminutive suffix -et. Flajol is originally a word from the Provençal language, also known as Occitan, which was once widely spoken throughout what is now southern France and still survives thanks to language revitalization efforts. Ultimately, flageolet may come from the Latin verb flāre “to blow,” which is the source of deflate, inflate, and even flavor. Because Latin f tends to correspond to English b, cognates of flageolet in English include blow, blast, and perhaps bladder and blather, the latter two from a Germanic source roughly translated as “something blown up.” Flageolet was first recorded in English in the 1650s.

how is flageolet used?

[Musician Jim Foley] joined Brother Mullery’s flageolet band, which began with just five players and ended up with a 40 strong marching band. They played at local events and concerts and in the Cork Opera House where their performance was broadcast on the then Radio Éireann.

Mike McGrath, “Veteran musician Jim can recall a lifetime in music,” Corkman, August 29 2020

Beginning with a few flutes that he used for a children’s program, Mr. [Trevor] Wye, a collector of rare and unusual flutes, gradually developed a program he called “Afflatus.” In it, he uses 40 different types of flutes, which he plays one after another, including the rare “triple flageolet” and a flute that catches fire…

Rena Fruchter, “40 Flutes, Some Humor and a Bit of Fire,” New York Times, January 24, 1993
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[ vek-suh-lol-uh-jee ] [ ˌvɛk səˈlɒl ə dʒi ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


the study of flags.

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What is the origin of vexillology?

Vexillology “the study of flags” is a compound of the Latin noun vexillum “flag” and the combining form -logy, which indicates the study of a subject and is of Ancient Greek origin. Vexillum (also spelled vēxillum) is a diminutive of vēlum “sail, covering,” making vexillum literally mean “little sail.” The reason why vexillum, rather than a word such as “vēlillum,” is the diminutive of vēlum is likely because of the recent Word of the Day syncope, or the loss of a sound from the middle of a word. Vēlum probably was once pronounced like “vexlum” in the early days of Latin, and the x was eventually dropped—but not before the stem vex- could be combined with the suffix -illum to create vexillum. If that sounds a little odd, bear in mind that English lord comes from Old English hlāfweard “loaf-keeper,” which shed half its consonants! Vexillology was coined in the late 1950s.

how is vexillology used?

Of the millions of pages of documents and reports generated by the first moon landing, none is more telling, to me anyway, than an eleven-page paper [“Where No Flag Has Gone Before: Political and Technical Aspects of Placing a Flag on the Moon”] presented at the twenty-sixth annual meeting of the North American Vexillological Association. Vexillology is the study of flags, not the study of vexing things, but in this case, either would fit.

Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, 2010

Whitney Smith, who turned a childhood fascination with flags into a scholarly discipline—vexillology—of which he was the leading light, … coined the term vexillology, combining the Latin word for flag, “vexillum,” with the Greek suffix meaning “the study of.” “I’ve been criticized because it combines Latin and Greek, a barbarism,” he told Smithsonian, “but I say, ‘I was a teenager!’”

William Grimes, “Whitney Smith, Whose Passion for Flags Became a Career, Dies at 76,” New York Times, November 22, 2016
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