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Jun 19, 2017
This week’s theme
Words derived from the names of parts of the body

This week’s words
caltrop
chagrin
sinewy
repugn

caltrop
Caltrop (dangerous)
Photo: CIA

caltrop
Caltrop (delicious)
Photo: Scott

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

A few weeks ago I passed out in the gym, perhaps due to dehydration. Gravity did its thing. My body accelerated at 9.8 m/s² and met the ground. A concussion is no fun. I sympathize with the NFL players who have to do this for a living.

The emergency room doctors stapled my head, did a whole bunch of tests, and released me with the instructions to rest. I lay in bed for a few days. It can be tiring to rest.

So I lay in bed, thinking random thoughts. Why don’t human bodies come with a warranty? Any damage, and we’ll give you a new one, no questions asked. Well, that may not happen, but aftermarket service is great and getting better (though it can cost an arm and a leg).

Modern medicine is impressive. Thank you, science! It’s cool (and spooky) to look at the CT scan of your own head. I guess that’s one way to do introspection. I asked the hospital for a CD of the scans. Here’s a slice. Now you can also look into my head, though a better way to do that is to simply read what I write.

Anyway, the packaging may have taken a hit (and now healing, slowly), but the goods are intact. I still think about words, dream of them, and play with them.

So as I was reading the latest issue of National Geographic magazine, I came across this article, and a word jumped out at me. If you know what ontology is, you know what an ontologist does, but do you know what a pale ontologist does? I don’t know, but she’d better sit down if she’s feeling pale. A concussion is no fun.

This week we’ll have fun with a week of words derived from the names of various parts of the body.

caltrop

PRONUNCIATION:
(KAL-truhp)

MEANING:
noun:
1. A device with (typically) four projecting spikes arranged in a way that one spike is always pointing up. Used to obstruct the passage of cavalry, vehicles, etc.
2. Any of various plants having spiny fruits.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Old English calcatrippe (any of various plants, such as thistle, that catch the feet), from Latin calcatrippa (thistle), from calx (heel) + trap. Earliest documented use: 1000.

USAGE:
“Marsh tried to swallow a growing ache, and winced. His injuries had become a caltrop lodged in his throat.”
Ian Tregillis; The Coldest War; Tor; 2012.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist. -Salman Rushdie, writer (b. 19 Jun 1947)

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