Monday, February 26, 2007

This little piggy... was unfancied

I have signed up to Wordsmith. These peeps send me a word each day, to amuse, intrigue and inspire me. Occasionally it's a word I already know, but more often than not it's a word I have never heard of but desperately try to remember to impress my liguaphile friends.

Last week was porcine week for the wordsmiths, to celebrate Chinese new year. I particularly like this word:

epigamic (ep-i-GAM-ik) adjective Of or relating to a trait or behavior that attracts a mate. Examples: In an animal, bright feathers or big antlers. In a human, a sports car or a big bust. [From Greek epigamos (marriageable), from epi- (upon) + gamos (marriage).]

I'm not entirely sure how it would be used (would epigamic behaviour make one more nubile, not that I particularly want to be, you understand?) but Michael and I decided that the antonym might be altogether funnier. Suggestions on an e-card please…

Also, and this is directed at the linguistically aware scientists among you, I seem to remember that sex cells were described to me by my GSCE biology teacher (who, incidentally, used to walk around with his flies undone) as gametes. Does this word have an etymologically similar path to epigamic? Surely the Greeks didn't use words for marriage and sex interchangeably? Anyway…

P.S. I've always found a sports car to be a rather sterile epigamic gesture… although there was a ruffian in my youth called Shane who rode a rather loud motorbike.


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