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SIERRA

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SIERRA

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Jun 29, 2005 11:48 pm

• sierra •

Pronunciation: see-e-rê • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A mountain range with a jagged line of peaks or ragged profile. 2. A west coast Spanish mackerel.

Notes: Today's word is a beautiful Spanish gift to English that is used in many names by speakers, many of whom are probably unaware of its meaning. Sierra in Spanish originally referred only to the cutting tool, a saw. But the jagged blade of a saw lent its name metaphorically to the jagged ridges of mountains, like the Sierra Nevada, the snow-covered saw, in Spain. (Yes, Nevada means "snow-covered" in Spanish—odd name for a state that shares Death Valley and the Mojave Desert with California, no?)

In Play: The African nation of Sierra Leone, the lion saw, the Sierra National Forest which contains much of the California Sierra Nevada, and the Sierra Club came along after the metaphor had become the second meaning of the word. The same is true of the Sierra Madre mountain range in Mexico, the Mother Range, and the setting of the 1948 Humphrey Bogart classic, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, directed by John Huston.

Word History: Sierra is the Spanish descendant of Latin serra "saw". The adjective from this word was serratus "like a saw, saw-shaped", which gave English its adjective serrated, referring to knife blades that are toothy, like a saw.
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Postby anders » Thu Jun 30, 2005 10:40 am

adjective serrated, referring to knife blades that are toothy, like a saw.


The Universal Dictionary of the English Language, ed. H.C. Wyld, wrote:serrate...having notches on the edge like the teeth of a saw; serrated; esp. of leaves

Obviously, the leaf and the mistreated knife etc. are serriform or serriferous.

Serrulate fr. Lat. serrula 'a little saw', finely toothed or serrated.
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Postby Brazilian dude » Thu Jun 30, 2005 11:29 am

And we say serra in Portuguese. Serra in Italian is a greenhouse, though.

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Postby Garzo » Thu Jun 30, 2005 11:42 am

Ah, that is where Italians keep their cuttings!
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Postby anders » Thu Jun 30, 2005 12:45 pm

I saw that comment.
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Postby uncronopio » Fri Jul 08, 2005 2:12 am

Some terms used: serratura (serration), serrulatus (serrate), retroserratus (teeth pointing backwards). Other associated terms: crenatus (crenate, with rounded teeth), dentatus (toothed) and denticulatus (very small teeth).
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