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Oct 31, 2019
This week’s theme
Eponyms from fiction

This week’s words
Sinon
grobian
Scheherazade
Red Queen hypothesis
rodomont

red_queen_hypothesis
Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen in the 2016 film Alice Through the Looking Glass
Poster: Walt Disney Pictures/IMDb

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Red Queen hypothesis

PRONUNCIATION:
(red kween hy-POTH-uh-sis)

MEANING:
noun: The hypothesis that organisms must constantly adapt and evolve in order to survive in an evolutionary arms race.

ETYMOLOGY:
Proposed by the biologist Leigh Van Valen (1935-2010). Earliest documented use: 1973.

NOTES:
In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass the Red Queen tells Alice: “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”
Evolutionary biologist Leigh Van Valen used that as a metaphor to describe how competing species must keep up with one another. For example, in a predator and prey relationship, if the prey evolves to run faster, the predator must keep up or go extinct.

USAGE:
“The Red Queen hypothesis -- adapt or die -- offers a particularly dour outlook for those who measure their pulse online. Alice never gains any Instagram followers. Her extinction is internet invisibility.”
Kaitlin Phillips; In This Tale of Online Intimacy, the Only Wise Characters Are Luddites; The New York Times; Apr 13, 2017.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
There is a budding morrow in midnight. -John Keats, poet (31 Oct 1795-1821)

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