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A.Word.A.Day--skein

Pronunciation RealAudio

skein (skayn) noun

1. A length of yarn wound around a reel.

2. A flock of geese, ducks, or other similar birds in flight.

3. Something suggesting complex twists and tangles.

[From Middle English skeyine, from Old French escaigne.]

When in flight, geese are called a skein; when not in flight, a gaggle; and when flying in a V formation, they are referred to as a wedge. Ducks take a number of terms too: while in water, they are called a paddling.

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

"The article, described as a tale of 'bank fraud, oil trading, and bombs,' prompted Norman to follow a tangled skein of connections to a second, much broader, story." Linda Grant; Newstrends: A Story You Won't Read in Forbes; Fortune (New York); Oct 2, 1995.

"Arrowhead skeins of geese fly northward and land at Walker Bay to breed." Bruce Thorson; Boom and Bus; Canadian Geographic (Ottawa); Mar 13, 1998.

This week's theme: collective nouns.

X-Bonus

A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury. -John Stuart Mill, philosopher and economist (1806-1873)

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