Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Evelyn wrote that she heard this on CNN the other day: “Two NCIS agents assisted in the exfiltration of the wounded officer.”

Exfiltration is the opposite of infiltration. It was built from ex-, out of, and -filtr-, which basically meant a filter. Originally, filter referred to felt, a cloth made of wool or wool plus hair. It was compacted by rolling and pressure.

Liquids were poured through a filter in order to remove impurities. It eventually picked up a military application: to withdraw troops or spies from a dangerous position, often surreptitiously.  The U.S. Department of Defense’s 1968  Dictionary of  U.S. Military Terms defined exfiltration as “the removal of personnel or units from areas under enemy control.”

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

Nook edition

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