Monday, October 29, 2007

My Mere Fell Into the Mere While Holding a Mere




For some reason, I enjoy finding words that come from entirely unrelated origins, but end up with identical spelling through accidents of history or linguistic quirkiness. Pedology is a prime example:

• Pedology [Greek pedon, soil] is the scientific study of soil composition.
• Pedology [Greek paid-, child] is the study of physical and mental development in children.

Several unrelated words, in their journey over the centuries, ended up with the spelling m-e-r-e. I’m not reaching for a point here; this doesn’t really go anywhere. If you love words, the thrill of jarring juxtaposition will be enough.

mere [In various Germanic and Scandinavian languages, the sea]

• a drainage channel filled with water
• a lake, pond, or pool
• an arm of the sea; an inlet
• a marsh or fen
• a mermaid

mere [Latin murus, wall]

• a boundary or border
• a strip of uncultivated land
• a linear measurement along a vein of ore
• to delineate boundaries (v)

mere [French mere, mother]

• a mother
• the elder of two women of the same name, especially a mother as distinct from her daughter or daughters

mere [Greek moros, mighty]

• renowned, famous, illustrious; beautiful, splendid, noble, excellent
• notorious, infamous

mere [Latin merus, undiluted, pure, unmixed]

• pure, unmixed, unalloyed; undiluted, unadulterated
• of wine: not mixed with water
• of a people or their language: pure, unmixed
• to purify or refine (v)
• insignificant, ordinary; inadequate, feeble.

mere [Maori mere, a club]

• a short flat Maori war club of hard wood, whalebone, or greenstone


SIDEBAR: mere, NYC band

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