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Aug 12, 2002
This week's theme
Red-herring words

This week's words
undulate
fartlek
conversant
assize
valorize

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Just about three feet above the floor, a number of crayon murals had been on exhibit on our living room wall for many months. I had been assigned to paint over them and finally the day came when (rather reluctantly) I got hold of some paint and a brush. As I finished applying the second coat of paint to the patch of the wall where once the artwork stood, my pre-school-age daughter delivered her expert opinion, "This doesn't look much gooder." Ability to spot patterns helps us immensely when learning words: sweet/sweeter, hot/hotter, good/ ... but there are times we fall into gotchas.

At first glance, it would appear that the word undulate is the opposite of "dulate". But you can't dulate no matter how hard you try. Sorry, but there is no such verb. This week's AWAD features words which lead us into pitfalls if we try to deduce their meaning by guessing.

I know why I felt badder after the paint job... I'll take a crayon painting over a squeaky-clean wall any day.

undulate

Pronunciation RealAudio

undulate (UN-juh-layt, UN-dyuh-) verb tr., intr.

To move or to cause to move in a wavy motion.

undulate (UN-juh-lit, UN-dyuh-) adjective

Having a wavy appearance.

[From Latin undulatus (waved), diminutive of unda (wave).]

"Named the North, East and West Course with lakes and undulating terrain, play is difficult on the East section, with the West providing the exact opposite huge fairways, allowing many a wild shot."
Sir Buaya; Tee Up For a Great Year Ahead; Malaysian Business; Jan 1, 2002.

"Mackerel sharks swim by swinging only their tails, whereas cat sharks undulate their entire bodies."
Ryosuke Motani; Rulers of the Jurassic Seas; Scientific American; Dec 1, 2000.

X-Bonus

If the gods listened to the prayers of men, all humankind would quickly perish since they constantly pray for many evils to befall one another. -Epicurus, philosopher (c. 341-270 BCE)

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