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Feb 4, 2019
This week’s theme
Words made with combining forms

This week’s words
mycology
ailurophile
orogeny
epigeal
nidifugous

mycology
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

I love learning about how things are made -- taking factory tours is one of my favorite things to do -- so I was delighted to read a recent article about how an Airbus A380 comes together.

Four million parts arrive from 30 countries via sea, land, and air. Then they are all put together to build a plane in Toulouse, France, by, I presume, giant kids with screwdrivers and spanners from their Meccano sets.*

Words work somewhat similarly. We source components from around the world, from multiple languages, and then screw them together and let them out to fly from mouths to ears, and beyond.

This week we’ll feature five words made with combining forms. What are combining forms? You can think of them as Lego (from Danish, leg: play + godt: well) bricks of language. As the term indicates, a combining form is a linguistic atom that occurs only in combination with some other form which could be a word, another combining form, or an affix (unlike a combining form, an affix can’t attach to another affix).

This week we’ll use these combining forms:
myco- (mushroom, fungus), ailuro- (cat), oro- (mountain), epi- (upon), nidi- (nest)
and
-logy (study), -phile (lover), -geny (formation), -geal (relating to earth), -fugous (fleeing).

*At least that’s how we do it in our own backyard in Seattle.

mycology

PRONUNCIATION:
(my-KOL-uh-jee)

MEANING:
noun: The study of fungi.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek myco- (mushroom, fungus) + -logy (study). Earliest documented use: 1836.

USAGE:
“[R. Gordon Wasson, a vice president of J.P. Morgan’s bank] began spending less time banking and more on mycology, eventually coming to believe that ‘our ancestors worshipped a divine mushroom’.”
Nick Richardson; Revolution in the Head: The Uses and Abuses of Psychedelics; Harper’s Magazine (New York); Jun 2018.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
A society that presumes a norm of violence and celebrates aggression, whether in the subway, on the football field, or in the conduct of its business, cannot help making celebrities of the people who would destroy it. -Lewis H. Lapham, editor and writer (b. 8 Jan 1935)

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