Friday, November 14, 2014

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On

Evelyn wrote to say that she had come across a strange and unfamiliar word last week while browsing through the offerings in her local library’s semi-annual book sale. The word was quassation.

The word is strange and unfamiliar to most of us because it is obsolete. When the word was last commonly used, somewhere around the late 19th century, it meant crushing medications into smaller pieces, or grinding vegetative material into pieces in order to extract their beneficial ingredients.

The word came from the Latin quassatio, a violent shaking, and later expanded into crushing or bruising. A close relative was the adjective quassative, given to shaking and trembling.

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