My Word!

TriphthongTrif-thongNouna phonological unit consisting of three successive vocalic sounds in one syllable; three vowel sounds pronounced as oneTechnically, the word hour contains a triphthong.First used in English in 1559, but no one recalls (or cares) why.

My Word! March 11

Scotoma Sco-to-ma Noun A spot in the visual field where vision is absent or impaired The presence of a scotoma may be a symptom  of glaucoma. This one was first found in English in 1822, but of course came from Latin, and they stole it from the Greek verb skotoun, meaning to darken.

My Word! March 4

Raad Ra-ad Noun An electric catfish Ralph was shocked when it turned out he had caught a raad. I am not quite sure where raad are found, but the name comes from the Arabic word ra”ad, meaning threatener or striker, which still strikes me as an odd term for a fish.

My Word! February 26

Quoll Kwal Noun A small spotted marsupial found in Australia and New Guinea It is amazing that this species survives since the northern male quoll dies after mating a single time. This dates back to 1770 and comes from the Australian aboriginal language Guugu Yimidhirr word je-quoll for the little critters.

My Word! February 5

Napoo Na-poo Adjective A British slang term meaning finished, done, dead, over, terminated (you get the idea). Teresa May’s political career is napoo at this point. Oddly enough our cousins across the Atlantic somehow got this one from the French phrase il n’y en a plus , meaning it is done or over.

My Word! January 29

Murine Mu-rine Adjective Of, like, or pertaining to mice and/or rats The scientist was constantly constructing new and more elaborate mazes for the rats to run in the course of his studies of murine intelligence. Yes it’s ultimately from Latin and goes back to 1607 in English.  I suspect London.