Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Email this


Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

The Canary Islands aren't named after any birds. A light-year isn't a unit of time. And panmixia is, well, nothing to do with mixing things in a pan. These are red-herring words that appear to mislead us in the beginning but if we look deeper, everything becomes obvious.

The Canary Islands got their name from dogs (Latin canis); canaries are named after the islands! A light-year is a unit of distance (how far light can travel in a year). This week we'll see a few more words in this category -- words that aren't what they appear to be.

panmixia (pan-MIK-see-uh) noun

Random breeding (without regard to selecting a partner with particular traits) within a population. Also known as panmixis.

[From Greek pan- (all) + mixis (mixing). Ultimately from the Indo-European root meik- (to mix) that's also the source of mix, miscellaneous, meddle, medley, promiscuous, melee, and mustang.]

"The panmixia hypothesis -- that all European eels migrate to the Sargasso Sea of reproduction and comprise a single, randomly mating population -- is widely accepted."
Thierry Wirth and Louis Bernatchez; Genetic Evidence Against Panmixia in the European Eel; Nature (London, UK): Feb 22, 2001.


Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friend to one, enemy to none. -Benjamin Franklin, statesman, author, and inventor (1706-1790)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2024 Wordsmith