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Nictate

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Nictate

Postby M. Henri Day » Sat Aug 20, 2005 4:30 pm

• nictate •

Pronunciation: nik-teyt • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive

Meaning: To wink, to blink.

Notes: Image
Just something in my eye.Today's Good Word is a reduction of the verb nictitate by a process known as 'haplology'. Haplology is the collapse of two similar or identical syllables into one, for example, probably is usually reduced to probly when pronounced because of the two instances of the sound [ahb] in its middle. Nictitate has a [tê] and a [tey] which, apparently, are similar enough for haplology. Nictation is the noun. For an adjective you have to go back to nictitate: it is nictitant "blinking".

In Play: Ladies, here is a good way to handle someone who comes on too strong: "Are you making a pass at me or does your eye nictate involuntarily?" Your vocabulary alone should deter him. Nictation is not limited to eyes, though, "They loved to sit together on a susurrous, moonlit beach and watch the slowly nictating lighthouse across the bay."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Latin nictat(us), the past participial stem of nictare "to wink or blink", a cognate with Old High German hnigan "to bow", neigen in Modern German today. Another relative is connive, which comes from Latin connivere "to close the eyes".

Image

I suspect that this word is most often encountered in the term «nictating membrane», possessed by many animals, but alas, at least when it starts to blow in dusty regions, not by H sap sap. One can't have it all....

Henri
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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Postby Brazilian dude » Sat Aug 20, 2005 6:33 pm

Unfortunately nictitare didn't seem to leave any offspring in Portuguese (I just checked, I didn't know nictate, by the way, and just loved it) except:

nictitante S.f. A terceira pálpebra das aves (the third palpebra* of birds) (which I didn't know either).

I didn't know that palpebra existed in English either. Here it is:

Latin = eyelid, probably from palpitare = to flutter.

What a stupendous thread! I learned three words for the price of one.

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Postby Stargzer » Mon Aug 22, 2005 1:16 am

The third eyelid in dogs and other animals is called a nictitating membrane.
Regards//Larry

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Postby M. Henri Day » Mon Aug 22, 2005 3:24 am

Stargzer wrote:The third eyelid in dogs and other animals is called a nictitating membrane.


The author(s) of the Wikipedia article cited by Larry regard(s) the form «nictating membrane» as incorrect, a perhaps too prescriptive attitude toward the language. Admittedly, the use of «nictitating membrane» is more than 30 times greater than that of «nictating membrane», as evidenced by a Google search, but I can't help wondering if this ratio will decrease with time....

Henri
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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Postby Stargzer » Wed Aug 24, 2005 12:45 am

M. Henri Day wrote: . . .
The author(s) of the Wikipedia article cited by Larry regard(s) the form «nictating membrane» as incorrect, a perhaps too prescriptive attitude toward the language. Admittedly, the use of «nictitating membrane» is more than 30 times greater than that of «nictating membrane», as evidenced by a Google search, but I can't help wondering if this ratio will decrease with time....

Henri


I see that Henri's nictitating membrane seems to have caused him not only to cross a "t" but to have crossed it out altogether:
Many species of land animals have a nictitating membrane, sometimes (but incorrectly) spelled nicitating membrane, which can move across the eyeball to give the sensitive eye structures additional protection in particular circumstances. It is often called a third eyelid or haw.

:)

I have to agree that nictating is ever so much easier to pronounce than nictitating, but as long as this concept is confined mostly to the medical/veterinary sphere of influence, the longer original word will probably edge out its little brother.
Regards//Larry

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Postby Iterman » Thu Aug 25, 2005 4:41 am

...and if we throw the letters around of today's Good Word, we can get tic and come to the Tourette syndrome. So, is there any connection?
.... and what is the connection between tics/blinking and tics/insect?
Beg your pardon for my poor spelling and grammer.
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Postby Brazilian dude » Thu Aug 25, 2005 9:12 am

None, the latter have a k.

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Postby M. Henri Day » Fri Aug 26, 2005 6:33 am

Stargzer wrote:
M. Henri Day wrote: . . .
The author(s) of the Wikipedia article cited by Larry regard(s) the form «nictating membrane» as incorrect, a perhaps too prescriptive attitude toward the language. Admittedly, the use of «nictitating membrane» is more than 30 times greater than that of «nictating membrane», as evidenced by a Google search, but I can't help wondering if this ratio will decrease with time....

Henri


I see that Henri's nictitating membrane seems to have caused him not only to cross a "t" but to have crossed it out altogether:
Many species of land animals have a nictitating membrane, sometimes (but incorrectly) spelled nicitating membrane, which can move across the eyeball to give the sensitive eye structures additional protection in particular circumstances. It is often called a third eyelid or haw.

:)


Sorry for crossing out that «t», Larry, but I fear that I can't excuse myself by appealing to a faulty (or otherwise) nictitating/nictating/nicitating membrane - I still retain my paid up life membership in H sap sap, even though given the species' antics, I sometimes consider resigning. For the interested, here are the Google statistics on these three variants of this vibrant (pun intended !) word :
    1. nictitating : ~ 31100 websites
    2. nictating : ~ 3510 websites
    3. nicitating : ~ 534 websites


My own take would be that «nicitating» should, as the above website states, should be considered an error, while «nictitating» and «nictating» should both be considered acceptable variants. But then I'm being a bit prescriptive (not to say proscriptive) myself !...

Henri
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