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Jul 30, 2008
This week's theme
Words with hidden connections to animals

This week's words
popinjay
croupier
boustrophedon
sommelier
haggard

Today's word in
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AWAD in boustrophedon
boustrophedon

An ancient boustrophedon
Gortyn code of law
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

boustrophedon

PRONUNCIATION:
(boo-struh-FEED-n, -FEE-don)

MEANING:
noun: A method of writing in which lines are written alternately in opposite direction, from left to right, and right to left.

ETYMOLOGY:
From boustrophedon, literally ox-turning, referring to the movement of an ox while plowing a field, from Greek bous (ox) and strophe (turning). It's the same strophe that shows up in catastrophe (literally, an overturning) and apostrophe (literally, turning away, referring to the omission of a letter).

NOTES:
In such writing, each letter on the alternate lines was written as in a mirror image or rotated 180 degrees. We still do many things boustrophedonically, such as mowing the lawn, vacuuming the floor, etc. In many computer printers, such as dot-matrix and inkjet, the print head usually moves in the boustrophedon mode (though thankfully doesn't print letters mirrored or rotated).

USAGE:
"Tell me, am I wrong to mock vertigo from summit to abyss, to reveal the world as I see it? To scribe my destiny boustrophedon, from left to right then right to left."
Philippe Petit; To Reach the Clouds: My High Wire Walk Between the Twin Towers; North Point Press; 2002.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
War will never cease until babies begin to come into the world with larger cerebrums and smaller adrenal glands. -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)

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