Thursday, March 22, 2018

Flex and Flux

Ned from Lake Ann asked about the difference between flex and flux. The first difference is origin: flex came from a Latin word that meant to bend, while flux came from a Latin word that meant to flow.

The second difference is meaning. Flux has been used in the following senses:
·      an excessive discharge from the bowels or other organs;
·      a running from the eyes or mouth;
·      the flowing of the tide or of a stream;
·      a continuous stream of people;
·      a copious flood of talk;
·      continuous changes of condition or substance;
·      the rate of flow of any fluid across a given area;
·      the number of lines of magnetic induction or electric displacement;
·      any substance mixed with a metal to facilitate its fusion.

Flex has one major meaning -- to bend a joint. However, the –flex– root shows up in a couple hundred of words, including
·      anteflexion: the condition of being bent forwards;
·      chemoreflex: a reflex response to a chemical stimulus;
·      circumflex:  a curved accent mark to indicate vowel quality;
·      contraflexure: the condition of being bent or curved in opposite directions;
·      dorsiflex: to bend the foot towards its dorsal surface;
·      flexibility: pliancy;
·      flexion: the act of bending;
·      genuflexion: bending of the knee;
·      reflex: automatic reaction.

Apropos of nothing, I note that all five vowels can be inserted into those same consonants: flax, flex, flix, flux, and the misspelling flox. Flix, aside from being slang for motion pictures, is an old term for the down of a beaver.

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