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#57673 - 02/18/02 06:58 PM cusp
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
From BBC Sci/Tech

I've not seen this word used this way before. I do not think it a good choice.

"Dr Sereno, from the University of Chicago, told
the meeting that science was on the cusp of a
new era in dinosaur discovery. He said Africa,
in particular, would soon yield extraordinary...."
specimens that would enable scientists to
explain more fully how these great beasts
evolved.


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#57674 - 02/18/02 07:15 PM Re: cusp
Faldage Offline
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Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
on the cusp of a new era

It comes from the Latin cuspis, a point, spear. OED gives as the first definition (which I suspect means the oldest; the citation they give for that definition is the oldest at 1585) the beginning or entrance of a 'house', where 'house' refers to an astrological house. Your usage is obviously a generalization of this definition.


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#57675 - 02/18/02 07:24 PM Re: cusp
belMarduk Offline
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Registered: 09/28/00
Posts: 2891
Really Bill, I must admit that it is the only way I have ever heard it or seen it written.


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#57676 - 02/18/02 07:47 PM Re: cusp
wwh Offline
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Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
I had extra cusps on my molars. But what is the cusp of an era? Draw me a diagram.


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#57677 - 02/18/02 08:40 PM Re: cusp
belMarduk Offline
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Registered: 09/28/00
Posts: 2891
I'll try Bill, but I know I am not as glib as most in explaining words.

A cusp as I know it is the very most tip of a thing. So behind you, you've got everything you know about dinosaures and it seems that you have reached the top of your knowledge when you look down and there is a whole new road, stretching down as far as the eye can see.

Oh and they'd call it a cusp because the knowledge is not in the same old direction but a completely new direction.




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#57678 - 02/18/02 10:03 PM Re: cusp
hev Offline
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Registered: 01/28/02
Posts: 477
Loc: Sydney, Australia
According to the Australian Macquarie dictionary:

cusp
// noun
1. a point; pointed end.
2. Anatomy, Zoology, Botany a point, projection or elevation, as on the crown of a tooth.
3. Mathematics a point where two parts of a curve touch and end.
4. Architecture, etc. a point or figure formed by the intersection of two small arcs or curved members, such as one of the pointed projections sometimes decorating the internal curve of an arch or a traceried window.
5. Astrology the transitional first or last part of a sign or house when the new sign is gaining ascendancy, but the influence of the old one persists: to be born on the cusp. [Latin: point]

It appears that the term has quite a scientific background, but that it is being used in a slightly colloquial sense. The quote you've provided appears to be using cusp in the Astrological sense ie. akin to the word "verge" whereas the general use of the noun cusp would mean the apex or point. The context in the quote doesn't indicate being at a "point" ... yet ...

Anyone else?

Hev

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#57679 - 02/19/02 01:04 AM Re: cusp
tsuwm Offline
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Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10523
Loc: this too shall pass
the dental usage is one of the latest transferrals. the astrological is the earliest use.

I'll just throw out some citations that may serve to illustrate the... er... point.

Astrol The Cusp or very entrance of any house, or first beginning. (1647)

In this figure Capricorn is upon the cuspe of the ascendent. (1651)

general And mid the loftiest [mountains] we could well discern One that was shining in a cusp of snow. (1847)

Astron About the middle of the eclipse, the air was very clear, and the cusps well defined. (1764)

Arch In all the concave bends of the stone-work, a small pointed ornament occurs, which is very common in Gothic windows+I have ventured to apply to it [the name] of cusp, by which mathematicians denote a figure of this sort. (1813)



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#57680 - 02/19/02 05:50 AM Re: cusp
Keiva Offline
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Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 2605
I'm in 100% agreement with bel's usage point above, and also, like she, have essentially never heard it used any other way.


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#57681 - 02/19/02 06:10 AM Re: cusp
Faldage Offline
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Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
Or:

I was the cusp of this answer.


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#57682 - 02/19/02 07:28 AM Re: cusp
NicholasW Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 12/18/00
Posts: 393
Loc: London
It would depend how they're expecting discoveries to appear. If one big burst from now on, a peak, followed by a quieter time as they analyse them, then it is indeed a cusp; but if they're expecting the pace of discovery to increase, then a better word would be verge or entrance.


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