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Zwitterion

LibertyCon 25
Playing games is great mental exercise.

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?

0 thoughts on “Zwitterion

  1. Thanks to you, I know what a glumal means. Now all I have to do is figure out how to use it coherently in a sentence. I didn’t really figure it out until I went to three dictionaries and finally gave up and picture searched it. Webster’s Visual Dictionary is frightfully limited in places.

      1. Actually, glume is the base word. It’s a part of the inflorescence of certain grasses. They are used as identifiers for certain types of weeds, in particular, similar species which might be introduced vs. native.

        Cool, it means something else, too! 🙂

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