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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Apr 11, 2012 10:41 pm

• hirsute •

Pronunciation: hir-sut or hêr-sut • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Hairy, bristly, covered with hair-like bristles.

Notes: Today's Good Word has only a literal sense, and is not used in the metaphorical sense of hairy "dangerous, frightening". This means that an adverb would make no sense—what would doing something in a hairy manner mean? So today's word comes only with the rather mundane noun, hirsuteness. We may call women who are attracted to hairy men hirsutophiliacs when we don't want others to catch on.

In Play: The amount of hair required to qualify for today's adjective is relative; it usually refers to something that has relatively more hair than is normal or expected: "After years of not shaving, Santa Claus's face has become quite hirsute." On the other hand, plants that have any hair-like bristles at all may be called hirsute: "Maggie prefers hirsute plants to animals as pets since they are almost as fuzzy but require much less attention."

Word History: Today's Good Word first appeared in print in English in 1621. It was taken from Latin hirsutus "hairy, bristly," an extension of hirtus "shaggy." Where this word came from is something of an enigma for linguists. Their best guess is that it comes from the same root that produced the verb horrere "to bristle fearfully" and its noun horror "shivering, dread". If so, it goes back to a root meaning "to bristle, stick out", something the hairs on the backs of animals do when they face a horrible situation. (Today's hairy Good Word was the suggestion of Kyle McDonald, the passion and paradox of the Alpha Agora.)
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Postby misterdoe » Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:41 pm

Horror is untranslated Latin? :shock: But I shouldn't be surprised.

I recall looking up the name Lincoln once to see where it came from, expecting it to be of Celtic or Germanic origin for some reason. Turns out it's basically contracted Latin (lindon colonia, a Roman military colony stationed in the town of Lindon, in England). :? This is the reason etymology can be so interesting, to see the surprising origins of words and names we use every day...

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Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:06 pm

Fascinating. thanks.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----

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