Word of the Day

Saturday, September 01, 2018

ultradian

[ uhl-trey-dee-uhn ]

adjective

of or relating to a biorhythm having a period of less than 24 hours.

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What is the origin of ultradian?

The English adjectives ultradian and circadian are close contemporaries—1961 for ultradian, 1959 for circadian. Both adjectives refer to biological or physiological cycles, ultradian meaning “recurring with a period shorter than a day,” and circadian “recurring with a period of approximately 24 hours.” Both adjectives have similar formations: the Latin prefix ultra- meaning “beyond, on the far side of” and circa meaning “around, about.” The element -dian is formed from the Latin noun diēs “day” and the English adjective suffix -an, from Latin -ānus.

how is ultradian used?

Reindeer also ignore the absence of a light-dark cycle during the summer months. Instead, their sleep cycles are governed by ultradian rhythm, which means they sleep whenever they need to digest food.

Kimberly Hickok, "How Does the Summer Solstice Affect Animals?" Live Science, June 21, 2018

They collected records from databases, research articles, field guides and encyclopedias about the behavior of these species, and determined whether their behavior fit into one of five patterns: nocturnal (active at night); diurnal (active in the day); cathemeral (active during both day and night); crepuscular (active only at twilight, around sunrise and sunset); and ultradian (active in cycles of a few hours at a time).

Amina Khan, "If you enjoy sleeping at night instead of the day, thank the dinosaurs for going extinct," Los Angeles Times, November 7, 2017
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Friday, August 31, 2018

copse

[ kops ]

noun

a thicket of small trees or bushes; a small wood.

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What is the origin of copse?

The noun copse, “thicket of small trees grown for periodic felling,” is a shortening of coppice (with the same meaning). Coppice comes from Old French colpeïz, copeïiz, coupeïz “woodland cleared of trees, a cutover,” a derivative from an assumed Vulgar Latin verb colpāre “to cut, chop,” ultimately from Latin colaphus “a punch (with the fist),” from Greek kólaphos “a slap, blow.” Copse entered English in the 16th century.

how is copse used?

In the tops of the dark pines at the corner of the copse, could the glance sustain itself to see them, there are finches warming themselves in the sunbeams.

Richard Jefferies, "Vignettes from Nature," The Hills and the Vale, 1909

Between moonrise and sunset I was stumbling through the braken of the little copse that was like a tuft of hair on the brow of the great white quarry.

Joseph Conrad and Ford Madox Ford, Romance, 1903
Thursday, August 30, 2018

sudoriferous

[ soo-duh-rif-er-uhs ]

adjective

bearing or secreting sweat.

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What is the origin of sudoriferous?

The English adjective sudoriferous comes from Late Latin sūdōrifer, literally “sweat-bearing.” The Latin suffix -fer “carrying, bearing,” very familiar in English, comes from the verb ferre “to carry, bring, bear,” from the common Proto-Indo-European root bher- “to carry, bear,” source of Sanskrit bhárati, Greek phérein, Celtic (Old Irish) biru, Germanic (English) bear, and Slavic (Polish) bierać, all meaning “carry.” The Latin noun sūdor is a derivative of the verb sūdāre, from the Proto-Indo-European root sweid-, swoid- “to sweat” (swoid- becomes sūd- in Latin). The Germanic derivative of the Proto-Indo-European noun swoidos is swaitaz, which becomes swāt in Old English (English sweat). Sudoriferous entered English in the late 16th century.

how is sudoriferous used?

Jermaine’s nerves got the better of him and resulted in a rather sudoriferous audition.

Jodi Bradbury, "American Idol recap: Meet Jessica Phillips, Idol's newest star-crossed contestant," Christian Science Monitor, February 2, 2012

Although it may sound somewhat ridiculous to be mentioning football these sudoriferous days, the news is that Glenn Davis and Felix (Doc) Blanchard should be around again some time next month–on the screen, that is.

, "By Way of Report," New York Times, August 24, 1947

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