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Feb 23, 2011
This week's theme
Words with unusual plurals

This week's words
stele
eidos
fomes
lacuna
miasma

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

fomes

PRONUNCIATION:
(FOH-meez)
plural fomites (FOM-i-teez, FOH-mi-teez)

MEANING:
noun: An object (for example, clothing or bedding) capable of absorbing and transmitting infectious organisms from one person to another.

NOTES:
The word is usually used in its plural form fomites, which has led to the back-formation of a new singular form fomite. Another example of a word coined in a similar way is pea (from pease, which was erroneously believed to be a plural).

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin fomes (kindling wood), from fovere (to warm). Earliest documented use: 1658.

USAGE:
"The sitters didn't catch the virus at all. The cuddlers did, and so did the touchers, pointing up the importance of direct contact with secretions, but especially of fomites -- objects and surfaces with infectious viral particles still on them."
Perri Klass; When to Keep a Child Home?; The New York Times; Feb 9, 2009.

See more usage examples of fomes in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
In matters of conscience the law of majority has no place. -Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)

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