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Formication

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Formication

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Dec 08, 2013 9:04 pm

• formication •


Pronunciation: for-mê-kay-shên • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: No, it isn't as bad as you think: formication (with an M, not an N) is the sense of ants or other small bugs swarming, over your skin or anywhere else.

Notes: Despite the rarity of its use, this word has a remarkably large family of derivations. The immediate origin of formication is the verb formicate "to swarm with moving objects", as an old computer might formicate with flashing lights. The adjective, formicant, means "very faint or slow, crawling", as in the formicant heartbeat of someone seriously injured. If the phrase "ant farm" suggests to you that ants will germinate in the spring, replace the phrase with the noun, formicary, instead. It's an English word that means "ant farm".

In Play: Anything that makes your skin crawl makes you formicate: "When the teacher scraped her fingernail across the blackboard, a wave of formication spread across the classroom." If you can't think of a use for the noun, try the verb: "Holiday sales had residents formicating in the streets of New Monia all day long." This is an expression guaranteed to swing the focus of attention to the speaker.

Word History: Yes, this word comes from the Latin verb formicare "to swarm like ants", derived from formica "ant". "Formica means 'ant' in Latin?" I hear disbelieving carpenters ask, "So, what about the countertop laminate of the same name? Is it made from ants?" Well, that formicaFormica® to be exact—inherited its name from mica, according to the original Formica® website. Since Formica was originally a substitute insulation for mica, a popular electrical insulation of the time, the company decided to use that phrase as a name for the new product. Later, when this material was used to make the laminate, the company decided against changing the name. (Dr. Goodword suggested today's Good Word, because he loves 'garden path' words, words lead us in the wrong direction.)
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Re: Formication

Postby MTC » Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:59 am

And what better place than the garden path to find ants formicating?

But now we have learned ants do not merely "swarm." They move about in a highly calculated manner, especially when foraging. Men have even taken to modeling their behavior after ants, "even the least of them," as the Bible says.

"Ant colony optimization has many applications in the real world. For example, virtual ants have help to improve vehicle and communications network routing. Many mail delivery and gasoline truck companies are already using ant colony optimization to improve their routes from stop to stop. Similar concepts have been used in communications networks, where ant colony behavior has inspired better distribution of media through networks and to mobile users5 (like those of you reading this blog post on your iPhone or iPad!)"

http://www.nature.com/scitable/blog/stu ... rning_from

So the next time you see a semi laboring up a hill, just remember an ant may be behind the wheel, figuratively speaking, that is. Formidable formicators, those ants!
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Re: Formication

Postby William Hupy » Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:20 pm

Garden path words. Most interesting. May I suggest another? Thesbian. Another? Masticate. Any more out there?
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Re: Formication

Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Dec 09, 2013 1:15 pm

When a class became unruly I was not
beyond scratching both hands of fingernails
on the chalkboard. I am immune to the sound
but most kids aren't, especially since they
have an ability to hear things adults lose.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: Formication

Postby misterdoe » Mon Dec 09, 2013 5:59 pm

William Hupy wrote:Garden path words. Most interesting. May I suggest another? Thesbian. Another? Masticate. Any more out there?

Titter... oscillate... crapulent... and I recall a teacher in high school who set the class tittering :) when he read a passage that ended with the phrase "perturbations of the crowd." :wink:
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Re: Formication

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:05 pm

We used to enjoy perturbing the less learned with statements like, "I just saw a couple on campus interdigitating their phylanges. Did you know that can lead to osculation? And that interferes with mastication!"

Oh...and Luke! I shiver just thinking about your cruel and unusual punishment.
pl
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Re: Formication

Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:16 pm

I tell you, it gets their attention when nothing else works.
Just part of my 'inner 'teacher'.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: Formication

Postby Slava » Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:48 pm

Thesbian? I know-eth not this word. Didst thou meaneth thespian? Or am I simply lost?

Others:

The cock crowed.
He's got two balls and no strikes.
You can prick your finger.
(Adapted from George Carlin)
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.
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Re: Formication

Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Dec 10, 2013 2:32 am

Formication is related to ants. Ants produce formic acid. The name is derived from the Latin word for ant. Formic acid is what makes a bunch of anger ants smell the way they do. Note I was bold and did not spell it p*ss.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Re: Formication

Postby William Hupy » Tue Dec 10, 2013 11:02 am

Thespian. Thanks for the spell check. My keyboard has the audacity to display the keys I tap. That reminds me of my father who used to complain that his darn gun shot where he aimed it.
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Re: Formication

Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:11 pm

Odd... My guns shoot only approximately where I aim them.
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Re: Formication

Postby MTC » Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:22 pm

I think Mr. Hupy should be credited for creating "thesbian" as a blend word between "thespian" and "lesbian." A number of real-life examples come to mind.
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Re: Formication

Postby Slava » Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:32 pm

MTC wrote:I think Mr. Hupy should be credited for creating "thesbian" as a blend word between "thespian" and "lesbian." A number of real-life examples come to mind.
Too late, it's already been done.
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Re: Formication

Postby MTC » Tue Dec 10, 2013 8:27 pm

If it has "already been done" as you write, then why did you say
"Thesbian? I know-eth not this word. Didst thou meaneth thespian? Or am I simply lost?" ?
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Re: Formication

Postby Slava » Tue Dec 10, 2013 8:35 pm

MTC wrote:If it has "already been done" as you write, then why did you say
"Thesbian? I know-eth not this word. Didst thou meaneth thespian? Or am I simply lost?" ?
Because its usage is very limited and it is not recognized as a standard word.
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