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obsidian (ob-SID-ee-uhn) noun

A dark volcanic glass formed by rapid cooling of lava.

[From Latin obsidianus, from obsidianus lapis, from mis-reading of obsianus lapis (Obsius's stone), after Obsius, a Roman, who (according to Pliny the elder) was the discoverer of this kind of stone in Ethiopia.]

Here's a picture.

"Hernan Cortes didn't conquer Mexico: it was just one stroke of bastard's luck after another that his head didn't end up on the Aztec skull racks. With his cackhanded squad dead before Spanish typhus could sap their empire, the Aztecs could have challenged European settlement in North America (wagon trains versus obsidian knives - now there's a scenario)."
Veronica Horwell, The What If Game: Veronica Horwell Speculates on History's Near Misses, The Guardian (London), Jun 10, 2000.

This week's theme: words formed erroneously.


Every man supposes himself not to be fully understood or appreciated. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

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