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Jun 4, 2010
This week's theme
Words not named after the person they should be

This week's words
McKenzie
orrery
philippic
Buridan's ass
guillotine

Dr Joseph-Ignace Guillotin
Dr Joseph-Ignace Guillotin
Source: Musée Carnavalet, Paris

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Words that appear plural but aren't
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

guillotine

PRONUNCIATION:
(GIL-uh-teen, GEE-uh-teen)

MEANING:
noun: A device with a heavy blade that drops between two posts to behead someone.
verb: To execute by guillotine or to cut as if with a guillotine.

ETYMOLOGY:
After French physician Joseph-Ignace Guillotin (1738-1814) who recommended its use. Ironically the instrument designed as a humane device has come to symbolize tyranny. Dr. Guillotin realized that hanging by rope or beheading by a sword was cruel, and urged a more humane method of execution, one that was swift and relatively painless. Dr. Antoine Louis, secretary of the College of Surgeons, designed a device that was at first called a Louisette or Louison, but eventually it became known as a guillotine.

USAGE:
"It appears that the magnificent eagle may be making a resurgence in Essex County. Too bad we won't be able to enjoy them for long. Soon we will find them lying guillotined below the myriad wind turbines our illustrious premier and his gang believe are so good for us."
Mary Anne Adam; Turbines Going to Take Out Eagles; The Windsor Star (Canada); May 6, 2010.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
As often as Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought: in their behavior toward creatures, all men were Nazis. -Isaac Bashevis Singer, writer, Nobel laureate, (1904-1991)

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