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This week's theme: words that aren't what they appear to be.

undecimal (UHN-des-uh-muhl) adjective

Based on the number eleven.

[From Latin undecim (eleven).]

Some people do have undecimal hands: they might have eleven fingers. The bonus digit is called supernumerary. Supernumerary parts don't have to be fingers. For example, instead of a binary arrangement, some people are gifted with an extra nipple. You could call them "supernumammary".

-Anu Garg garg AT wordsmith.org

"A modern though little realised example of undecimal counting is seen in the ISBN of published books. Any ISBN comprises ten digits. If you multiply the first by ten, the second by nine, the third by eight, and so on, summing the results as you go along, the result will always be divisible by eleven." William Hartston; What Are The Chances Of That?: Fabulous Facts About Figures; Metro Books; 2004.

(Try this on the ISBN of my new book: 0471718459. -Anu)


When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kind of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt. -Robert M. Pirsig, author and philosopher (1928- )

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