Saturday, June 06, 2009

That's a Yoke, Son


In Greek, the word that described oxen yoked together was also used to describe wedded union. (We’re in this for the long haul, Elsie!) The core was συζυγ-- (syzyg-), and it has given us some strange words.

Syzygiology is the study of the relationship, the intertwining, of parts and functions, as contrasted to the study of isolated parts and functions.

Syzygy refers to various pairings: heavenly bodies, cranial nerves, sutured joints, two organisms that retain separate identities, rational integral functions, Gnostic oppositions, and a microorganism supposedly formed by the fusion of several larval parasites.

Syzegetic is the adjective form for the syzygy meaning a group of rational integral functions so related that, on their being severally multiplied by other rational integral functions, the sum of the products vanishes identically.

Syzygial is an adjective form used for the astronomical and zoological meanings of syzygy.

Syzygium is the conjunction of two organisms without loss of identity, as in the genus Diplozoon (parasitic worms).

Antisyzygy is a union of opposites. Here’s an example from F. Hale, Reader, 24 January, 1863: “Zoroastrianism . . . fuses together—in what Clement of Rome would have denominated an antisyzygy—the Deity and Satan.”


SIDEBAR: Syzygy — the progressive rock band


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


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