Daily Archive: 06 Aug 2017

Aug 06

Odd Words: Cicatrix

CicatrixIt is not with a great deal of pleasure that I present page 54 of The New York Times Everyday Reader’s Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, and Mispronounced Words: Revised Edition. But it’s like a chore, so let’s get through it. I do at least like today’s word because it is very useful: cicatrix.

Useless Words

No words are truly useless. But some are so specialized as to make me wonder what they are doing in a dictionary of this type.

One such word is “chyle.” It is “lymph containing emulsified fats formed from chym in the small intestine.” And, of course, “chyme” is “the semiliquid mass of partially digested food formed by gastric secretion.”

Now I have little doubt that these are perfectly good words for biologists and doctors. But really: when would I use these words? And who could I be talking to who I could expect to know them?

Who? Nobody.

Useful Words

And then there are some very useful words. One of them is today’s word. Or maybe I just think that because I have scars.

The first word on page 53 is “chutzpa.” (The accepted spelling of it is “chutzpah.”) Most people know this word: “gall; audacity; impudence.” It’s a great word. And it sounds so great!

The last complete word on page 53 is “circuitous.” It is “roundabout; indirect.” I probably overuse the word. But it is so accurate, especially if it brings to mind a circuit board. And it does for me.

Cinema!

There were a few words related to the cinema. I believe they are all coined from the word “cinema” itself.

The first is “cineaste.” It is “an enthusiast for motion pictures, especially in their artistic and technical aspects.” That’s a word I’ve seen around a lot. There is also “cinema verite,” which is “motion pictures that are imitative of real life.” I just checked and before this article, I’d used the phrase in six articles on Frankly Curious.

But the third cinema word I have never seen and I kind of doubt it is a real word: “cinematics.” It’s easy enough to guess: “the art or technique of motion picture making.” I’m curious if anyone has ever run into it.

Cicatrix

And that leads us to today’s word:

Cic·a·trix  noun  \sik’-ətriks\

1. the scar that forms on a wound, which has healed.

2. a mark left on a stem by a fallen leaf.

Date: late Middle English.

Origin: from Latin cicatrix. which means “ulcer.”

Example: This apparatus was rather heavy and cumbersome and attended with the objection that the end of the thigh stump had to carry the weight of the body, and the stump cicatrix had to endure a constant pressure. –Berry Craig (quoted), Sixteenth Century French Barber Surgeon: A Man of Many Talents

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