Odd Words: Allochthonous

Allochthonous - Stone Formation in WaterPage eight of The New York Times Everyday Reader’s Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, and Mispronounced Words: Revised Edition is an odd one. In the first column, I knew perhaps half the words. I knew all the words in the second column — except for one that I’ll come back to in a moment. In the mean time, get chomping on “allochthonous.”

American Plan?!

There is this thing in the hotel business called “American Plan.” It is a system where you pay a single rate for your hotel and meals. I’ve traveled quite a bit and stayed at a lot of hotels. I’ve never even heard of such a thing. I guess cruise ships work that way. But I always figured that if you didn’t keep people on a ship constantly busy eating, drinking, and watching banal entertainment, they would realize just how awful they felt about spending thousands of dollars to be stuck with all of these people for a week!

Allochthonous and Others

I’ve noticed this before: words I don’t know come in clumps. I assume it is because there are a bunch of specialized words that are based on the same foreign root that I just don’t know. But I can’t say for certain. Doing so would require that I do a bunch of work. And I’m really tired and just want to get this post done!

Here it is; the word you’ve been waiting for: allochthonous:

Al·loch·tho·nous  adjective  \ə-läk’-thə-nəs\

1. not native to the region where found.

Date: early 20th century.

Origin: it comes from two Greek words: allos (other) and khthōn (earth).

Example: The nitrate assimilation rate has been examined to determine new production because nitrate is considered the major allochthonous source of nitrogen, supplied to the euphotic zone from deep water.Shiozaki, et al

It seems to be a geological word. But it would be a great word to have for invasive plants. I suspect there is a different word for that.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

2 thoughts on “Odd Words: Allochthonous

    • It does seem like a general word. But I think it is only used in geology — most likely because biologists already have a dozen words for it!

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