Odd Words: Agglutinate

influenza A Virus - AgglutinateWhat an exciting day we have with page six of The New York Times Everyday Reader’s Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, and Mispronounced Words: Revised Edition! Although I must admit, it’s not a very good dictionary. I often have to consult other dictionaries to figure out what a word means. That’s definitely true of today’s word: agglutinate.

Offline Latin

Over the past few days, I’ve been very glad to have A Latin-English Dictionary for the Use of Junior Students. I picked it up at a thrift store years ago when I was writing a play about Latin. I have the Thirteenth Edition, which is from 1898. But it must have been a best-seller because it was up to the Twenty-fourth Edition by 1915. Regardless, it’s far more dependable than Google Translate. Of course, Latin is a late edition to the system. But you would think: Latin. That ought to be an easy one. I mean it gets Spanish and Italian and they are just Latin++. What’s the big deal?

Beyond Agglutinate

There were other interesting words. “Agio” is supposedly the fee charged by brokers to turn coin into cash. So that’s what those awful machines are charging. And it’s like 8.9 percent, which is an outrage! But this is the page that includes a personal favorite of mine: agoraphobia. Most people will never know the thrill of being freaked out by an empty parking lot!

Instead, you have have to settle for thrilling to the word “agglutinate”:

Ag·glu·ti·nate  verb  \ə-‘gloo-tən-āt\

1. (in linguistics) to form and express grammatical relationships by the continued additions of strings of meaningful elements, as in Turkish.

Date: 16th century.

Origin: Latin: agglutino, which means “to fasten to, or attach.”

Example: Let’s get together and agglutinate – and more linguistics valentines.AllThingsLinguistic

The Real Meaning of Agglutinate

Dictionary.com defines agglutination as, “a process of word formation in which morphemes, each having one relatively constant shape, are combined without fusion or morphophonemic change, and in which each grammatical category is typically represented by a single morpheme in the resulting word, especially such a process involving the addition of one or more affixes to a base, as in Turkish, in which ev means ‘house,’ ev-den means ‘from a house,’ and ev-ler-den means ‘from houses.'” So now you understand that business about Turkish!

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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: Agglutinate

  1. Not specific to this word post but to the series of posts, in general. REALLY glad to see this post series as it gets more to the roots of what this site started as. Thanks for your work with this effort.

    • Thank you, Will. I’m just thinking more about grammar and such. These are fun, but also a lot of work. Finding the html codes for the odd characters is a pain!

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