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Today's Word



Jul 6, 2015
This week’s theme
Words that aren't what they appear to be

This week’s words

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with Anu Garg

A sword used for beheading is called a heading sword. Sodalite is not another word for Diet Coke, nor is it a member of a sodality -- it’s a mineral. Strawberry isn’t a berry, but a banana is.

A language never complains however you use it or misuse it. Who said language was meant to communicate and words were supposed to tell you what they mean from their spellings?

This week we’ll feature words that aren’t what they seem to be.



1. The fundamentals of any subject.
2. The branch of grammar dealing with inflections of words.
3. A book of fundamentals of a subject.

From Latin accidentia (from Latin accidens), from accidere (to happen), from ad- (toward) + cadere (to fall). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kad- (to fall), which is also the source of cadence, cascade, casualty, cadaver, chance, chute, accident, occident, decay, recidivism, perchance, casuistry. Earliest documented use: 1434.

“He flicked through the accidence, and closed it with a smile of accomplishment.”
Geraldine Brooks; Caleb’s Crossing; Viking; 2011.

See more usage examples of accidence in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

In an earlier stage of our development most human groups held to a tribal ethic. Members of the tribe were protected, but people of other tribes could be robbed or killed as one pleased. Gradually the circle of protection expanded, but as recently as 150 years ago we did not include blacks. So African human beings could be captured, shipped to America, and sold. In Australia white settlers regarded Aborigines as a pest and hunted them down, much as kangaroos are hunted down today. Just as we have progressed beyond the blatantly racist ethic of the era of slavery and colonialism, so we must now progress beyond the speciesist ethic of the era of factory farming, of the use of animals as mere research tools, of whaling, seal hunting, kangaroo slaughter, and the destruction of wilderness. We must take the final step in expanding the circle of ethics. -Peter Singer, philosopher and professor of bioethics (b. 6 Jul 1946)

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