I had a much better time with page four of The New York Times Everyday Reader’s Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, and Mispronounced Words: Revised Edition. There were a handful of words I didn’t know. In particular, did you know there’s a word for a lack of perspiration? There is: adiaphoresis.
But the page does bring up something I said earlier: that if you get past 50,000 words, you’re basically down to different kinds of fish. Most of the words I don’t know are technical — usually medical. At this point, I’m thinking that I may actually have a vocabulary of 50,000 words. That’s a shocking thought. Where are they? And do I really need all those little buggers clogging up my brain? Certainly I don’t use them for writing.
How Long Can This Go On?
To be honest, I’m not sure how long I can keep this all up. The words aren’t that interesting. And dealing with the definitions is a real pain. That’s especially true because I’m trying to stay as close to the book as possible. And the type is so small and my eyes so bad that I can’t use the book while writing because the light isn’t good enough.
Regardless, I have a science word for you today. And given what it is, it’s surprising that I didn’t know it: actinism.
1. the property of radiation to produce chemical changes.
Origin: it comes from the Greek word ἀκτῖνος, which means beam, as in “light beam.”
Example: Niepce, a Frenchman, discovered “actinism,” that power in the sun’s rays which produces a chemical effect… —Henry David Thoreau