• zymurgy •
Pronunciation: zai-mêr-jee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. That branch of applied chemistry that deals with fermentation, such as that involved in wine-making or brewing. 2. The practice or art of fermentation in brewing, distilling, wine-making, and so forth.
Notes: This rather rare word would be an excellent play in a game of Scrabble. It is analogical to metallurgy, liturgy, and dramaturgy, so it has an adjective, zymurgical, and an adverb, zymurgically, but that is the extent of its derivational family.
In Play: If you don't want your friends to be certain about the shady activities of your relatives, today's is a word that can help you out in certain situations: "Uncle Skeeter was caught in an act of zymurgy somewhere out in the woods by the revenuers. I don't think he was making merlot." Of course, zymurgy can also be a perfectly legitimate academic pursuit, too: "While writing his master's thesis on the zymurgy of the grape, Felix accidentally fell into a vat of his subject matter and nearly drowned."
Word History: Today's Good Word is a Greek compound consisting of zyme "leaven" + ourgia "working". Ourgia comes from Proto-Indo-European werg-/worg- "to do, work", which turned up in English work with relatively little change. The E-variant is visible in Greek ergon "work", which we use in ergonomics, the study of equipment design for efficient work. Organ was taken from Greek organon "tool, instrument" and orgy, well, that has to be a lot of work. (We are happy that Kitty Moody did the work of finding today's Good Word and sending it in to us.)