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Jun 3, 2019
This week’s theme
Weird plurals

This week’s words
stigma
ala
stratum
gutta
charisma

Previous week’s theme
Words originating in shoes

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

One cow, two cows. Also, two kine. Take your pick of either of the plurals. I like kine more because it’s weird* (weird is good) -- the spelling of the plural has no letters in common with its singular form.

Can we find other such singular/plural word pairs that have no letters in common? There are not a lot of such words in the English language, but I just used a couple of such pairs, a few sentences ago (is/are, I/we; also there’s me/us). Know any others?

This week we’ll feature words that have weird plurals in that they don’t follow the common English (-s/-es) method of pluralizing. OK, if you don’t like to call them weird, they are, at least, irregular.

*Kine is not as weird as it appears. It’s from Old English cu (which gave us cow). The plural was cy/cye which became ky/kye in Middle English. Then we made it a plural again by sticking an -en (similar to ox/oxen) to get kine. A double plural? Well, maybe it is weird.

stigma

PRONUNCIATION:
(STIG-mah)
plural stigmata (stig-MAH-tuh, STIG-muh-) or stigmas

MEANING:
noun:
1. A mark of shame or infamy.
2. A birthmark or scar.
3. An identifying mark of a disease.
4. The tip of the pistil of a flower where pollen is deposited.
5. A mark burned into the skin of a person.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin stigma, from Greek stigma (tattoo mark), from stizein (to prick). Ultimately from the Indo-European root steig- (to stick; pointed), which is also the source of ticket, etiquette, instinct, astigmatism, thistle, tiger, and steak. Earliest documented use: 1596.

USAGE:
“Her appearance has changed as well, and I don’t mean just the intense reticulation of lines and wrinkles, the true stigmata of life.”
Rabih Alameddine; An Unnecessary Woman; Grove Press; 2014.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Follow your inner moonlight; don't hide the madness. -Allen Ginsberg, poet (3 Jun 1926-1997)

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