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Apr 3, 2017
This week’s theme
Words with irregular plurals

This week’s words
chrysalis
imago
tour de force
bourgeois
oxymoron

chrysalis
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

We’ll begin with box, and the plural is boxes;
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.

So begins a poem lamenting the quirks of English spelling. If only things were simpler and every word could be made plural by adding an s or es to the end.

But no, that’s what a thousand years of history will do to a language.

English has borrowed words from more than a hundred languages it has come in contact with, in conquests, trade, and travel, over the years. When a word is borrowed from another language, it comes with its care and handling instructions. For example, “Don’t change the spelling in plural” or “The last syllable is nasal.”

Sometimes we follow these instructions, sometimes not. One chrysalis, two chrysalides, you say? Why not with one chrysalis, two chrysalises? Sometimes the original plural fades away, sometimes both coexist.

This week we’ll feature five words with irregular plurals.

chrysalis

PRONUNCIATION:
(KRIS-uh-lis)
plural chrysalises or chrysalides (kri-SAL-i-deez)

MEANING:
noun:
1. A pupa of a moth or butterfly, enclosed in a cocoon.
2. A protective covering.
3. A transitional or developmental stage.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin chrysallis (gold-colored pupa of a butterfly), from Greek khrusos (gold). Earliest documented use: 1658.

USAGE:
“He saw her straighten her shoulders and peel away the chrysalis of her innocent youth.”
Lisa Ann Verge; The Celtic Legends Series; Bay Street Press; 2014.

See more usage examples of chrysalis in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
I am only one, / But still I am one. / I cannot do everything, / But still I can do something; / And because I cannot do everything, / I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. -Edward Everett Hale, author (3 Apr 1822-1909)

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