Monday word: exaptation

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017 04:02 am
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Posted by ersatz_read

exaptation (ĕg′zăp-tā′shən), noun

1. A process in which a feature acquires a function that was not acquired through natural selection.
2. A feature having a function for which it was not originally adapted.
3. A morphological or physiological feature that predisposes an organism to adapt to a different environment or lifestyle.

Etymology:  coined in the early 1980s by Stephen Jay Gould and Elizabeth Vrba, from ex + adaptation. 

I ran across the word in this article about goldfish.  And here is the Wikipedia article.  And, a Scentific American article.

Friday word: Ventifact

Friday, August 11th, 2017 07:21 pm
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Posted by med_cat

Ventifact, n. [ven-tuh-fakt]

Geology. a pebble or cobble that has been faceted, grooved, and polished by the erosive action of wind-driven sand.


The surface was a fine trash of ventifacts --stones that had been polished into smooth facets by blowing grit ...

Sarah Andrews, In Cold Pursuit, 2007

A little world, and completely filled with small black boulders, like fossil balls from various sports, only all black, and all faceted to one extent or another. They were ventifacts.

Kim Stanley Robinson, Green Mars, 1994

Ventifact, “stone shaped by the wind or sandstorms,” is a rare word, used in geology and physical geography, and is modeled on the much earlier noun artifact (artefact), which dates from the mid-17th century. Ventifact derives straightforwardly from Latin ventum “wind” ( venti- is the Latin combining form) and factum, the past participle, also used as a noun, of the verb facere “to make, do” (with as many senses as the English verbs). Latin ventum is related to English wind, winnow, and weather. Latin facere and the adjective facilis “easy, easy to do” derive from a very common Proto-Indo-European root dhē- “to put, place, set,” from which Germanic (English) derives do and deed, Greek tithénai “to set, put,” and Slavic (Polish) dzieje “history” (i.e., things done, deeds). Ventifact entered English in the early 20th century.


Thursday word: periapt

Thursday, August 10th, 2017 09:19 pm
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Posted by prettygoodword

periapt (PER-ee-apt) - n., a charm esp. worn around the neck, an amulet.

I thought it had something to do with church architecture, but no. Not the most common word ever, but it does appear in multiple collegiate dictionaries, so not super-rare either. Borrowed in 1584 from Middle French periapte, from Greek períapton, amulet, from períaptein, to fasten around (oneself), from perí-, around + haptein, to fasten.

Almost instantly I discovered that my uncle's periapt was missing.

(Yes, that's a real quote, from one "Adventure of the Purloined Periapt". I have not attempted reading it.)


Wednesday word: tetchy

Thursday, August 10th, 2017 06:34 am
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Posted by trellia_chan

tetchy: [tech-ee]

adjective:  irritable, touchy, testy, bad-tempered.

 First known use 1592 by Shakespeare in "Romeo and Juliet."  Obscure etymology.

Monday-ish word: tendentious

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 04:23 pm
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Posted by ersatz_read

tendentious (tĕn-dĕn′shəs), adj.

Having or showing an intentional tendency or bias, especially a controversial one.

Etymology:  Latin tendentia, a cause
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