Sunday, September 24, 2017

Temblors & Tremblers

While reading a local newspaper, Vic from Suttons Bay came across an article about the recent earthquake in Mexico. What caught his eye was the following sentence:  “The U.S. Geological Survey said the new, magnitude 6.1 temblor was centered about 11 miles south-southwest of Matias Romero in the state of Oaxaca.” What caught his eye was the word temblor. “Shouldn’t that be trembler, or maybe tremblor, as in a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on?”

We appreciate the musical reference, Vic, but temblor is the correct spelling. The word was heisted from the Spanish spoken in the southwestern United States. It translates as earthquake.

There’s no question that the earth trembles during an earthquake and that  tremors are felt by people in the quake area, but those words are not used in the scientific sense. The word tremulous (shaking with fear) can also be referenced. All three of those words owe their existence to the Latin verb tremere, to tremble, shake, and quake.

Our word quake seems to track back to an Old English word that meant chattering teeth.

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about two year’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.


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