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Nov 20, 2012
This week's theme
Eponyms

This week's words
serendipity
mithridatism
rhadamanthine
elysian
icarian

Mithridates VI
Mithridates VI
Louvre Museum
Photo: Eric Gaba

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

mithridatism

PRONUNCIATION:
(MITH-ri-day-tiz-uhm)

MEANING:
noun: The developing of immunity to a poison by gradually increasing the dose.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Mithridates VI, king of Pontus (now in Turkey) 120-63 BCE, who is said to have acquired immunity to poison by ingesting gradually larger doses of it. Earliest documented use: 1851.

NOTES:
Mithridates VI's father was poisoned. No wonder VI wanted to develop tolerance to poison. The story goes that after VI's defeat by Pompey, he didn't want to be captured alive. So he tried to end his life by taking poison. That didn't work, so he had a servant stab him with a sword.

USAGE:
"Some monks resorted to the direct ingestion of mercury and cinnabar, small quantities at first, but gradually building up the dosage as the body's tolerance increased -- an alchemical mithridatism."
Alexander Goldstein; The Foundling; Trafford Publishing; 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Mere parsimony is not economy. Expense, and great expense, may be an essential part in true economy. -Edmund Burke, statesman and writer (1729-1797)

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