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May 18, 2020
This week’s theme
Which came first: the noun or the verb?

This week’s words
transect
surfeit
reconnoiter
traject
interpose

Previous week’s theme
There’s a word for it
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Words are malleable. Words can be squishy, perky, firm. In the right hands, they can be lots of fun. In any hands, they can be fun. Look at the picture here. My Italian is rusty so I’ll rely on the English text: “Do not beyond the yellow line.”

Language is meant to communicate and, as long as the meaning is clear, there’s no wrong way to use the language.* The meaning is absolutely clear on the sign, though I wonder what happens if one decides to beyond the yellow line.

You see what is happening to “beyond” here?

Yes, it’s OK to verb a preposition and to preposition a verb (but not OK to proposition a verb -- verbs have certain standards). Also, it’s OK to verb a noun and noun a verb. Try any permutations and combinations; if it works it’s good.

This week we give you five words, verbs and nouns. Some of them started out as verbs and, over time, became nouns as well. Some did it the other way.

*The only abuse of language I see is when words and actions do not match: people talking about patriotism, morals, following the Constitution, and doing the opposite.

transect

PRONUNCIATION:
(tran-SEKT)

MEANING:
verb tr.: To cut across.
noun: 1. A narrow section through a natural feature.
2. A path along which measurements or observations are made.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin trans- (across) + secare (to cut). Earliest documented use: for verb 1634, for noun 1905.

USAGE:
“The 1.7-square-mile borough is transected by two commercial districts -- Main Street and Route 28.”
Jill P. Capuzzo; Reaching a Truce with Floodwaters; The New York Times; Oct 20, 2013.

“Known among hikers as the PCT, the Pacific Crest Trail is a network of paths that leads from the Mexican border to British Columbia ... The full transect is a massive undertaking and requires months of physical exertion, often at high elevations.”
Robert Isenberg; US Man to Hike 2,650 Miles to Fund Costa Rican Shrine; McClatchy-Tribune Business News (Washington, DC); May 10, 2014.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The tragedy in the lives of most of us is that we go through life walking down a high-walled lane with people of our own kind, the same economic situation, the same national background and education and religious outlook. And beyond those walls, all humanity lies, unknown and unseen, and untouched by our restricted and impoverished lives. -Florence Luscomb, architect and suffragist (1887-1985)

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