Thursday, January 06, 2011

Cry Uncus!

Last Tuesday’s vocabulary quiz on Words to the Wise featured the word unciform, meaning hook-shaped. It is an offshoot of the Latin word uncus, a hook. In turn, that owed its existence to the Greek word ὄγκος (onkos), hook.

In both cases, the words had various applications—everything from a fish hook to a grappling iron to the barb of an arrow to a gruesome device used to drag the corpses of executed criminals along the ground to dump them in the Tiber River.

Many of the words based on those roots are obsolete, but they are interesting and worthy of review.

• aduncate: hooked or bent inward
• inuncate: to hook or entangle
• obuncous: very crooked
• uncate: hook-shaped or furnished with hooks
• unciform: hook-shaped
• uncinariasis: hookworm disease
• uncinate: hooked or furnished with hooks
• uncinus: a hook-shaped process
• uncked: hooked
• uncous: hooked or curved
• uncus: a hook or hook-like process

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

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