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NEOTENY

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NEOTENY

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Aug 30, 2006 11:09 pm

• neoteny •

Pronunciation: nee-aht-ê-nee • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: 1. Retention of juvenile characteristics in the adults of a species. 2. The attainment of sexual maturity by an organism still in its larval stage.

Notes: The typical biological example of neoteny can be seen in Mad Magazine's favorite animal, the axolotl which, unlike some other salamanders, remains aquatic even after it matures and should become a land-dweller like all other salamanders. (I'll bet Alfred E. Newman didn't know that.) You have two adjective to choose between: neotenic [nee-ê-te-nik] and neotenous [nee-aht-ê-nês].

In Play: More recently psychologists have described aspects of the various bohemian countercultures in terms of psychological neoteny. The behavior of the adults in these subcultures reflects many of the social and psychological traits of children, such as playfulness, naiveté, indifference to social norms. (Whoever named the Flower Children of the 60s could have told us that.) Of course, the flappers of the 20s and the Beat Generation of the 50s retained many juvenile traits well into adulthood, too. The time would seem to have arrived when we can use this term casually: "That little red sports car Noah Zarque tootles around in is just one aspect of his neoteny–the man is over 70 years old!"

Word History: This word comes from New Latin neotenia which was derived from Greek neo "new" + teinein "to extend, stretch". The root here, ten, came to English as thin but created far more words in Latin, most of which English would seem to have borrowed. We see it in such words referring at some time to stretching or holding on, such as tendon, tone, from Greek tonos "string", and tenor from Latin tenere "to hold", the same word that gave us tenacious. (We are happy that Claude House of Canada held on to this word and shared it with us.)
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Postby Perry » Thu Aug 31, 2006 7:30 am

A wonderful word for the Peter Pan syndrome.
"Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening all at once. Lately it hasn't been working."
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Postby skinem » Thu Aug 31, 2006 8:43 am

A word that seems to apply to more and more people in our society.
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Postby Bailey » Thu Aug 31, 2006 9:46 am

maturity/childishness boring/fun stodgy/goofy Which? Well there IS a fine line. One can accept responsibility for themselves and still be playfull. Thanks for the reminder.

mark now-I've -gotto-figure-out-how-to-do-it Bailey

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Postby tcward » Fri Sep 01, 2006 1:48 pm

Now, I would've expected tin to be related, but apparently it isn't!

tin
O.E. tin, from P.Gmc. *tinom (cf. M.Du., Du. tin, O.H.G. zin, Ger. Zinn, O.N. tin), of unknown origin, not found outside Gmc. Tinny is first recorded 1552; used figuratively (of sounds, etc.) since 1877; tin-type in photography is from 1864. Tin ear "lack of musical discernment" is from 1909. Tin Lizzie "early Ford, especially a Model T," first recorded 1915. Tinfoil is attested from 1467; tinhorn "petty but flashy" is 1857, originally of low-class gamblers, from the tin cans they used for shaking dice.


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