Sorry for missing yesterday. I took the day off and went to the fair. And then I was really tired and didn’t feel like writing. But I’m back at it with page 52 of The New York Times Everyday Reader’s Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, and Mispronounced Words: Revised Edition! Much like page 51, this page has a lot of space dedicated to two roots. I picked something different, however: chrysalis.
Two Big Roots
The first column on page 52 was made up almost entirely of two roots. The first is chroma–, which comes from the Greek chrōmatikós. So we get words like “chromogen,” which is “a substance, as a microorganism, which produces pigmented compounds when oxidized.”
The other root is chrono–, which is from the Greek word khronos — time. Most of the words have something to do with measuring time. Or the opposite, like with “chronopher,” which is “an electrical apparatus used to broadcast time signals.”
About a quarter of page 52 was made up of “church” words and phrases — mostly phrases. I’ll just list them out because they are kind of interesting, even if kind of familiar:
- Church invisible: “the whole of Christianity both in heaven and on Earth.” So let’s see, that’s all of the Christians on Earth plus zero. Got it!
- Church Militant: “those Christians constantly active in the fight against evil.” I’d say about half of them. The second half are the ones they are fighting.
- Church visible: the whole body of Christian believers on Earth.” So the same as church invisible.
There’s also “churchwarden,” which is “a tobacco pipe with a long stem.” Interesting that I didn’t know that one.
One word caught my eye for personal reasons. I know it, of course: “chronic.” It means “perpetual; unceasing.” The reason it struck me was that I’ve been dealing with problems with my blood pressure. I normally have what is considered normal blood pressure: 120/80. But recently, I’ve had roughly 150/100 during the day. Then it reduces to 120/85 at night.
Yesterday, I took my father to the fair. It was a very pleasant day, as I plan to discuss later today. When I got home, I took my blood pressure: 112/80. Great. Then I went to work, and something went wrong. I decided to check my blood pressure: 161/105.
I may end up on disability if I don’t watch out. Of course, with the Republicans in charge of Washington for the next year and a half, at least, there may be none — so I can just work myself to death.
Today’s word is a specialized biologist word. But it is still the kind of word that a lot of people know and one that is useful: chrysalis. Note that the definition below is very limited; the word applies to a lot of different insects.
1. the pupa of a butterfly.
Date: early 17th century.
Origin: from Greek khrusos, which means “gold” since some pupae are golden.
Example: This year, in addition to the Painted Ladies, two Monarch butterflies were released into the Butterfly House, as well as a chrysalis and some caterpillars. –Kirsten Barnhart, Master Gardeners Hold Butterfly Release Party