• agglomeration •
Pronunciation: ê-glah-mê-ray-shên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. The process of forcing unrelated things together into a jumbled mass or union. 2. A jumble of unrelated things forced or compacted together.
Notes: Today's Good Word is one of the nouns from the verb agglomerate "to ball together". The other one is agglomerate itself, pronounced slightly differently, which refers to things that have been shaped specifically into a ball or a jumbled mass like an agglomeration. A conglomerate is a corporation comprising disparate companies. A conglomeration is also an accumulation of different things but things that are related in some way to each other.
In Play: Any association of unrelated entities is an agglomeration: "Cookie Baker's salads are usually an agglomeration of grasses, weeds, and other dubious vegetation growing in her backyard." The term is often used in reference to human settlements and organizations: "I wouldn't call this corporation so much a conglomerate as an agglomeration of companies, none of which has any idea of what the others are doing."
Word History: Latin had two words for "ball": glomus and globus. They apparently came from a Proto-Indo-European root glom/b- "ball, glob, clump" with an [m] and [b] which alternated in Latin. We find both in the English word derived from it, clump (after the B became P as it usually did in Germanic languages). The glom stem in Latin went into the making of glomerare "form into a ball" which took several prefixes, including ad- "to" and con- "with", giving us the basis for agglomerate and conglomerate. When English borrowed Latin verbs, it preferred the past participle of the verb for its stem. The past participle of agglomerare in Latin was agglomeratus. (Today's Good Word is just the most recent in an agglomeration of fascinating terms suggested by Susan Lister over the past several years.)