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#187586 11/02/09 04:58 PM
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kah454 Offline OP
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There can be no doubt, after last nights 9th inning comeback, that the New York Yankees are the acnestis to fans of the Philadelphia Phillies.

kah454 #187594 11/02/09 08:29 PM
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It is very satisfying that is there is a word for that annoying, unreachable itch. But does it strike anyone but me as odd that the ancient Greek word acnestis refers not only to "spine" but to "cheese grater"?? Maybe it's just me.............

Tara Guy #187595 11/02/09 09:13 PM
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Greek ακνηστις aknēstis 'backbone' < κνηστις knēstis 'spine; cheesegrater' < PIE *kenə-, knē- 'to scratch, scrape, rub'. The words are quite rare and their meanings did not seem to stop Homer from using them: the former in Odyssey 10.161 (a stag is struck by Odysseus' bronze spear in the spine) and the latter in Iliad 11.640 (a bronze grater is used to grate cheese into a cup of wine). It does not seem like to far a semantic journey from a cheese grater to a spine.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
kah454 #187621 11/03/09 04:18 PM
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I was trying to figure out this acnestis and think that it basically means 'not scratching oneself' from the reflexive meaning of the verb which knestis comes from. Maybe then it came to apply to the back, the difficult-to-scratch-oneself place. Then to spine as back? And cheese-grater, an implement to avoid when scratching oneself anywhere, a not-scratching-oneself implement. The last a bit of a stretch I know and some will doubt the authenticity. Great site!

Barney #187630 11/04/09 02:05 AM
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I would guess that the 'cheese grater' reference came from the fact that cheese graters are kind of bumpy like the spine is, and, rather than cobble together a new word for it they decided to adapt an already existing word. As they say, "The Greeks had a word for it." And tsuwm probably knows what it is.

Faldage #187634 11/04/09 05:50 AM
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d'oh. (see above)

but to carry on a bit, kna˘ 'to scrape or grate' is prolly the ultimate root

-ron o.

tsuwm #187643 11/04/09 11:51 AM
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Ha! So, parboly, the metaphorical meaning went the other way. The spine was so named for its resemblance to the cheese grater.

Faldage #187644 11/04/09 02:08 PM
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Hmm...speculations. I like that. Maybe before the iron cheese grater was invented they used the spine of a deceased small mammal for a cheese grater. ( if of course by that time cheese was invented.) which makes cheese grater and spine Oldtimer synonyms.

BranShea #187651 11/04/09 05:29 PM
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Thanks Bran;
I may never grate cheese again.


----please, draw me a sheep----
LukeJavan8 #187660 11/04/09 08:16 PM
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Granted that knao, with its basic meaning of scraping is the source word for knestis, the cheese grater, and that it's possible that the grater was the model for the spine, from a language perspective,I am puzzled why a-knestis for spine or backbone. What sense would alpha-privative make? Is it too far-fetched to think this alpha is not privative but alpha-combining as in a Gk word like a-koites, having the same place to lie down, sharing the same bed = spouse? So, having the same appearance as a cheese-grater = spine. I don't know but it's worth throwing out this kind of speculation which sounds awfully much like a popular etymology. But back to it: how to account for a-knestis?

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