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epenthesis (uh-PEN-thu-sis) noun

Insertion of an extra sound into a word, e.g. fillum for film.

[From Late Latin, from Greek epentithenai, to insert : ep-, epi-, (in addition) + en- (in) thesis (to place), stem of tithenia (to put).]

"Mosner also asked whether there is a name for `the insertion of a nonexistent syllable or sound in a word? Exhibit 1: the regrettably ubiquitous 'ath-a-lete.' Exhibit 2: 'height-th.' "Yes: It is epenthesis. Another instance of it is el-lum for elm. Alden Wood, Wood Caught in a Snare Andalusian, Communication World (San Francisco), Jun/Jul 1996.

This week's theme: words about words.


Written laws are like spider's webs; they will catch, it is true, the weak and the poor, but would be torn in pieces by the rich and powerful. -Anacharsis, philosopher (6th century BCE)

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