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Dec 11, 2006
This week's theme
Words for body parts used figuratively

This week's words

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with Anu Garg

A few weeks ago I broke my collarbone. I wish I had a heroic tale to tell, that I broke it while rescuing babies from a burning apartment, or a daredevil story, such as I broke it skydiving. But the mundane truth is that I stumbled while enjoying a morning walk on a wet hilly road.

It hurt whenever I moved my left arm, but it gave me a better appreciation of the human body. I realized how nicely the whole skeleton (from Greek skeletos, literally: dried up) moves. Every time I sit, stand, or lie down, this network of bones adjusts into the new shape. Except when the two fragments of collarbone rub against each other and -- ouch! -- tell me not to move that way.

The anatomical name for the collarbone is clavicle (from Latin clavicula, literally: little key). The same root shows up in words from music (clavier, clef), the name of a dish (clafouti), and other words such as enclave and conclave.

Ah, the pains I go to to find interesting words!

This week we'll learn a few words related to the human body that are used figuratively.


(JOO-gyuh-layt) Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

verb tr.:
1. To stop something by extreme measures.
2. To slit the throat.

From Latin jugulatus, past participle of jugulare (to cut the throat), from jugulum (collarbone, neck), diminutive of jugum (yoke). Ultimately from the Indo-European root yeug- (to join) that is also the ancestor of such words as junction, yoke, yoga, adjust, juxtapose, and junta.

"As Douglas Hurd, who refused to sign the letter, could see full well, this is not an attempt to change Tory policy on the single European currency. It is an attempt to jugulate William Hague."
Boris Johnson; Savaged by a Dead Sheep; The Daily Telegraph (London, UK); Jan 7, 1998.


Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation. -Oscar Wilde, writer (1854-1900)

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