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May 27, 2010
This week's theme
Words having many unrelated meanings

This week's words
jactitation
bagman
cashier
meiosis
tabby
The Anagram Times
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

meiosis

PRONUNCIATION:
(my-O-sis)

MEANING:
noun:
1. Understatement for rhetorical effect.
2. The process of cell division in which the number of chromosomes per cell is reduced to one half.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek meiosis (lessening), from meioun (to lessen), from meion (less).

NOTES:
Meiosis is a figure of speech in which underemphasis is used to achieve a greater effect, for example, "It took a few days to build the Great Wall of China." Also see litotes.

USAGE:
"At times I have a problem with this understatement. Understatement is effective only when there is real purpose to the meiosis."
James Gardner; Cold Mountain; National Review (New York); Dec 31, 1997.

"I took two years of biology in secondary school and couldn't today tell you the difference between meiosis and mitosis without a little help from Google, yet no one's arguing that studying cellular processes is a waste of precious school resources."
Kate Sommers-Dawes; Foreign Language in High Schools is Worthwhile; Washington Post; May 13, 2010.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The souls of emperors and cobblers are cast in the same mold. The same reason that makes us wrangle with a neighbor creates a war betwixt princes. -Michel de Montaigne, essayist (1533-1592)

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