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Word of the Day
Thursday, June 14, 2018

Definitions for semaphore

  1. a system of signaling, especially a system by which a special flag is held in each hand and various positions of the arms indicate specific letters, numbers, etc.
  2. an apparatus for conveying information by means of visual signals, as a light whose position may be changed.
  3. any of various devices for signaling by changing the position of a light, flag, etc.

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Citations for semaphore
The gymnasts were like the diagrams to illustrate the semaphore alphabet, arms thrust firmly out in precise positions, a flag in each hand, the little figures in naval uniform like her brother, Ben, drawn over and over. Peter Rushforth, Pinkerton's Sister, 2005
His younger brother admired his speed and what looked like his precision, though semaphore signals were a closed book to the major. Harry Turtledove, Fort Pillow, 2006
Origin of semaphore
1810-1820
Semaphore came into English from French sémaphore, a device for making and transmitting signals by line of sight. From the point of view of a purist or pedant, semaphore is a malformed word. The Greek noun sêma means “mark, sign, token,” and its combining form, which should have been used in semaphore, is sēmat-, which would result in sematophore. The combining form -phore comes from the Greek combining form -phoros “carrying, bearing,” a derivative of the verb phérein “to carry, bear.” Semaphore entered English in the 19th century.