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Jan 25, 2010
This week's theme
Words made with combining forms

This week's words
theogony
oligopoly
artiodactyl
heliolatry
hagiography
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

What are combining forms? You can think of them as the Legos of language. As the name indicates, a combining form is a linguistic atom that occurs only in combination with some other form which could be a word, another combining form, or an affix (unlike a combining form, an affix can't attach to another affix).

This week we'll feature five words made using these combining forms:
theo- (god), oligo- (few), artio- (even number), helio- (sun), hagio- (saint)
and
-gony (origin), -poly (selling), -dactyl (toes or fingers), -latry (worship), -graphy (writing)

Using one combining form from each of the above two groups you could make 25 words. Whether all those words make sense is another matter. In fact, theoretically you could construct billions of words with just these 10 Lego blocks as a word can have more than one combining forms. Consider pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

What words can you come up with using the building blocks of this week's words? Share your constructions and their definitions on the bulletin board Wordsmith Talk or by email (words at wordsmith.org).

theogony

PRONUNCIATION:
(thee-OG-uh-nee)

MEANING:
noun: The origin of gods or an account of this.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek theo- (god) + -gony (origin).

USAGE:
"The poet [Milton] sees the arrival of Christ in the world in terms of its impact on the pagan theogony."
A.N. Wilson; World of Books; The Daily Telegraph (London, UK); Dec 23, 2002.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Losing one glove / is certainly painful, / but nothing / compared to the pain, / of losing one, / throwing away the other, / and finding / the first one again. -Piet Hein, poet and scientist (1905-1996)

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