Monday, November 17, 2008

Glom That Conglomerate

Fred from Boyne Falls, Michigan, asked about the word glom, as in “glom on to that handrail before you fall.”

Glom has a few meanings: to steal; to grab; to look at or stare. It probably came from a Scots word -- glaum, to snatch at (1715).

* * * * *

On air, I speculated that it might be connected to the Latin glomus/glomer-, which means ball. I was wrong; to glom onto something is not connected. That root is responsible for words such as the following:

• agglomeration: The action of collecting in a mass, or of heaping together
• conglomerate: adj. clustered; n. 1. composite rock 2. corporation formed by merging
• eglomerate: to unwind
• fanglomerate: A rock consisting of comparatively erosion-resistant fragments of various sizes deposited in an alluvial fan and consolidated into a solid mass.
• glome: a ball of yarn
• glomerate: clustered
• glomeration: the process of forming into a ball
• glomerous: gathered into a ball
• glomerule: a compact cluster
• glomerus: A small cluster or mass of blood vessels or nerve fibers
• inglomerated: formed into a rounded mass or heap
• juxtaglomerular: situated next to a glomerulus of the kidney
• pseudoconglomerate n. Geol. a rock resembling a conglomerate but formed by a process other than sedimentary deposition

SIDEBAR: Sedimentary rock

Now available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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