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Jun 22, 2015
This week’s theme
Words derived from body parts

This week’s words
precipitous
oppugn
enervate
splenetic
eviscerate

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Vincent A. Musetto, the editor who wrote the timeless headline “Headless Body in Topless Bar”, died earlier this month (NY Times).

Countless editors toil in obscurity in newsrooms around the world every day. Even though they do an invaluable job, it’s rare that newspeople themselves become news. Musetto’s headline generated numerous stories in the press, so it’s not surprising that his passing has resulted in many obituaries. May he rest in peace. He was no ordinary man -- here’s hoping someone remembered to retrieve his brain to identify its genius (just like Einstein’s).

In Musetto’s honor we’ll feature five words that are coined after body parts, starting with today’s word that has its origin in the head.

precipitous

PRONUNCIATION:
(pri-SIP-i-tuhs)

MEANING:
adjective:
1. Resembling a precipice, a cliff with a nearly vertical overhanging face.
2. Extremely steep.
3. Abrupt, rapid, or hasty (applied to a worsening situation).

ETYMOLOGY:
From obsolete French précipiteux, from Latin praecipitare (to cast down headlong), from prae- (before) + caput (head). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kaput- (head), also the origin of head, captain, chef, chapter, cadet, cattle, chattel, achieve, biceps, mischief, occiput, recapitulate, and capitation. Earliest documented use: 1646.

USAGE:
“I’ve always had a weakness for lost causes and for writers who achieved some acclaim and then experienced a precipitous fall from grace.”
Guy Vanderhaeghe; I Wanted to Return to the Darting, Glimmering Light of Short Fiction; The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada); May 2, 2015.

See more usage examples of precipitous in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Him that I love, I wish to be free -- even from me. -Anne Morrow Lindbergh, author and aviator (22 Jun 1906-2001)

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