I learned a new word in chemistry today, zwitterion. It’s a biomolecule that changes polarity based on pH level in the body, but that’s besides the point. It’s just a really cool word. I haven’t looked up the etymology of it yet, and it doesn’t sound either Greek or Latin, which are the languages I would suspect in any other science, but I am learning that chemistry has a language all its own.
The English language is an entity all it’s own. Prone to knocking up other languages and bearing their bastard children with words like “gesundheit” which I was highly amused to learn sounds to an ESL woman I once worked with as “goes in tight” and she was totally confused over why a sexual reference was made every time someone sneezed. I suspect most who use it don’t even know what it means, any longer.
When I was younger, and you could do such a thing, I would read the dictionary. Now, with the ability to type a word into google, I no longer have the pleasure of rabbit-trailing off from looking up one word to discovering others. However, I did discover that there are random word generators which serve much the same purpose! This one gives you the definitions as well: Random Word Generator.
However, there are etymological dictionaries online, but they didn’t have zwitterion in them. Googling for it yields that it comes from the Old High German root zwi-, which means twice. Makes sense, since it essentially has the capacity to switch back and forth. And I do love being able to take a word apart, look at it, and put it back in working order when I’m done with it. I may no longer own a print dictionary (having just moved. Rest assured, I had my eye on an 1880’s Webster that is big enough to put any old yellow pages to shame) but I can still have fun with words.
So what’s your favorite new word?