Wordsmith.Org: The Magic of Words: The Magic of Words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



AWADmail Issue 181

October 8, 2005

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages

From: Andrew Leigh (andrew.leighATanu.edu.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--autotomy

The word "autotomy" is very appropriate to the Australian pair who just won the Nobel prize for medicine.

From one news report:
With some scientists calling their findings "preposterous", Dr Marshall drank a broth of bacteria to show that the presence of H pylori in people with ulcers was no coincidence. "I planned to give myself an ulcer, then treat myself, to prove that H pylori can be a pathogen in normal people," he told a scientific review. "I thought about it for a few weeks, then decided to just do it. Luckily, I only developed a temporary infection." Suffering stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting, he underwent an endoscopy which showed the distinctive spiral-shaped E pylori crowding around the inflammation in his stomach. His wife urged him to think of his children and get treatment - which he did. Source: abc.net.au

From: Dean Sieck (dean.sieckATtri-c.edu)
Subject: autotomy

This word is interesting in that its roots suggest a malady far beyond self-surgery or lizard behavior. Self-cutting is a behavior common to some disturbed youth and even, it is rumored, Abraham Lincoln that involves self-mutilation with razors or other sharp instruments. I wonder if the term autotomy has been applied to that kind of self-cutting.

From: Tracy Johnston (trackyjATacer-access.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--autotomy

I got a laugh when I read the part:
"Look for do-it-yourself surgery kits in your neighborhood pharmacy soon."

I believe they will be called "Suture Self".

From: Susan Gutterman (sbgnyATaol.com)
Subject: Autotomy

Did you see the wonderful movie "Master & Commander" in which Stephen Maturin the surgeon engaged in the above?

From: Melissa Bittner (michbittsATsbcglobal.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--autotomy

I forget where I read about it, but there was a little boy who was fascinated by sea stars and their ability to regenerate body parts. So when he lost a finger, he regenerated it, because he believed he could, just as the sea star had.

From: Oren Patashnik (opATcs.stanford.edu)
Subject: autotomy

> Other animals who use autotomy are: spider, crab, lobster...

And sea cucumbers (Echinodermata, like starfish and urchins). They, when attacked (or handled too much by high school marine biology students :-) will eviscerate, throwing out their guts, hoping that that will be satisfying enough for the predator; they eventually regenerate their innards.

From: Mathieu Joly (jolymATparl.gc.ca)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--autotomy

And what could we call one, man or beast, that can perform such autotomy? My Greek (classical or otherwise) being quite rusty, could I venture: AUTOTOMATO-N ?;-)

From: Johanna Steinmetz Cummings (johannaATnwlink.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--trichology

Sure, an expert in trichology might be a headmaster. But he or she might also be a tricho-treater.

From: Hélène Dion (hdionATvideotron.ca)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--trichology

Throughout her childhood, my daughter was literally a trichotillomaniac, a textbook case. She would select a very small strand, 2-3 hairs, twirl it around the thumb she was sucking, then pull them out. Her father and I were also trichotillomaniacs, figuratively. We saw doctors (she's in perfect health), psychologists (she gets too much attention, put her in child care), dermatalogists (make her stop, otherwise she'll be bald at 30).

I used to wake up at nights worrying, particularly terrified by the predicted baldness. What kind of a mother was I? I'm happy to report that she turned 30 this year, is healthy and sane and has an abundant head of exuberant hair. These days, trichotillomania is seen as akin to nail biting (is nail biting a very mild form of autotomy?)

From: Richard Kinley (richard.kinleyATlogicacmg.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--chirography

Chiropody might be an odd term in the US but is the accepted term in the UK, where nobody would recognise podiatry.

From: Joel Mabus (joel.mabusATpobox.com)
Subject: chiropodist

"Chiropodist" is indeed an odd word, in that the "ch" is often pronounced "sh" instead of the "K" sound that most other chiro- words employ. It means a practitioner who treats the feet with his hands.

I'm reminded of an old Groucho Marks joke: "Do you know the song about the Irish chiropodist? 'Your Fate Is In My Hands'."

From: JMS Pearce (jmspearceATfreenet.co.uk)
Subject: feedback: chirography

Another example of the Chiron- root is the degree earned by medical doctors of many of the older Universities in the form of chirurgery (surgery). The degree achieved was usually MB. ChB. (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery).

Many of the younger (red brick) institutions have abandoned this and award MB.BS.

And, a chirologist is a person who communicates thoughts by signs made with the hands and fingers

From: Hank Schutz (hschutzATnationaloptronics.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--chirography

A quite unusual word based on "chir" is "chiral", which refers to a category of molecules that can not be superimposed over their mirror-images. The meaning has been enlarged in some cases to suggest the general notion of "sidedness". For example, in the eye-care field, information pertaining to one eye, but not necessarily to both, may be called chiral.

From: Corinne Obrien (cobrienATcolbent.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--leptodactylous

I was shocked to read the definition of leptodactylous. My husband has been commenting on my slender digits for years. To give you an idea of how slender they are, my wedding ring is a size 2. I never realized there was a word for this. I was fortunate enough to have a friend sign me up for AWAD a few years ago and this is not the first time that I have been surprised by the meaning of a word. After seeing this, I am pretty much convinced that there is a word for everything.

From: Jake Forrest (milkcratesATgmail.com)
Subject: new format

I think you've changed the format for my AWAD. I don't like the new format. I think it's now in paragraph form? Please go back to the simple format.

From: Seth Hill (lsethhillAThotmail.com)
Subject: new format

Just a little feedback. I very much like the changes made in your articles. They make the words more real, useful, understandable. I hope you will continue to put the additional effort into these.

Jokes of the proper kind, properly told, can do more to enlighten questions of politics, philosophy, and literature than any number of dull arguments. -Isaac Asimov, scientist and writer (1920-92)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2023 Wordsmith