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A.Word.A.Day--tocsin

Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

It's a phonic (and phony) world out there. We have megaphones and microphones. Megaphones magnify our voice, so why doesn't a microphone miniaturize it? We have phonograms but they are not the opposite of gramophones.

Human languages, like humans, are never too logical. Homophones have nothing to do with Homo sapiens. The former prefix is from Greek homo meaning "same" while the other is from Latin homo meaning "man".

This week we'll feature five terms that are homophones of everyday words: toxin, analyst, beaut, bowl, and seed.

tocsin (TOK-sin) noun

An alarm bell or a warning signal.

[From Middle French toquassen, from Provençal tocasenh, from tocar (to touch) + senh (bell).]

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

-Anu Garg (garg wordsmith.org)

"In an unprecedented collaboration to sound the tocsin, Nature and Foreign Affairs have recently devoted special issues to the 'plausible scenario' of a pandemic that kills millions and wrecks the global economy."
Mike Davis; Avian Flu: A State of Unreadiness; The Nation (New York); Jul 18, 2005.

X-Bonus

I am no more lonely than a single mullein or dandelion in a pasture, or a bean leaf, or sorrel, or a horse-fly, or a bumblebee. I am no more lonely than the Mill Brook, or a weathercock, or the north star, or the south wind, or an April shower, or a January thaw, or the first spider in a new house. -Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author (1817-1862)

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