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May 14, 2012
This week's theme
Words with allusions to geometrical shapes

This week's words
triangulate
foursquare
trapeze
vicious circle
orthogonal

Triangulation in politics
Triangulation in politics
Illustration: Leigh Heydon

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Of all the shapes in the world, the square has a particularly bad reputation. No one wants to be called a square. To be square is to be unhip, uncool, not-with-it. As they say, be there or be square! What has this straightforward shape done to deserve it? Perhaps it *is* in its shape. All sides are the same, all angles are right, everything is perfect. And we know nobody likes those who have everything together.

But everything is not lost for our humble square. When it comes to describing upright behavior we go to no other than this much-maligned shape. A square deal is a fair and honest transaction, a square meal is a substantial and nourishing meal. We like square shooters, people who are honest and fair. It's best to square up (to pay a bill) and square things away (to put in order). Though sometimes in spite of our best efforts we get back to square one (from one of the games in which we traverse a sequence of squares, such as a board game). At any rate, whatever you do, just don't try to square the circle (attempt the impossible).

In this week's A.Word.A.Day we'll see words with allusions to geometrical shapes.

triangulate

PRONUNCIATION:
(try-ANG-gyuh-layt)

MEANING:
verb tr.:
    1. To position between two extremes, for example, in politics to appeal to both left and right wings.
    2. a. To make triangular.
        b. To divide an area into triangles.
        c. To determine a location by measuring angles to it from known points.
adjective:
    Composed of or marked with triangles.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin triangulare (to make a triangle), from triangulus (three-cornered). Earliest documented use: 1833.

USAGE:
"The only safe path was to triangulate, to split the difference between traditional liberal stances and those of free market economists."
Robin Sears; Progressive Leaders Need to Win Back the Middle Class; The Toronto Star (Canada); Mar 23, 2012.

"Nicholas Krushenick triangulated an eccentric sweet spot of his own in the field of painting."
Ken Johnson; Nicholas Krushenick; The New York Times; Oct 13, 2011.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies. -Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, philosopher (1844-1900)

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