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Iterate

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Iterate

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Sep 29, 2013 10:45 pm

• iterate •


Pronunciation: it-êr-ayt • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: Repeat, say or do again.

Notes: The New York Times Magazine back in 2010 ran an article on how today's Good Word was all the rage in Silicon Valley. Iterate has a synonym, reiterate. This word should mean "to iterate again", but dictionaries do not distinguish them at all. Today's Good Word has a noun, iteration, and an adjective, iterative. The latter is used mostly in linguistics to refer to verb forms in some languages that indicate repeated action.

In Play: These days iterate is a synonym of reiterate: "Bunsen Berner iterated the same experiment that had exploded—with the same results." If you care to preserve the inherent difference between the two words, you might want to say to Berner, following his second accident: "I do not like iterating what I say, Bunsen: do not reiterate that experiment that exploded."

Word History: Today's Good Word started out as the past participle, iteratus "repeated", of the Latin verb iterare "to repeat". This verb was made from the adverb iterum "again", a word analyzable into i-terum, containing the Proto-Indo-European pronominal root i-. We find this root again in Latin item "also". When English borrowed this word, it, too, meant "also", but it usually preceded every article in a list of things, much as we would use also today. We can easily see how it was mistaken for "an article in a list", its approximate meaning today. (We shouldn't have to iterate the expression of our gratitude to Suzanne Russell for suggesting today's fascinatingly Good Word.)
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Re: Iterate

Postby MTC » Mon Sep 30, 2013 3:39 am

About "iterate," a word which has become a verbal fad in Silicon Valley, the Times article states, "This is exciting new terrain for a word that had been associated with little more than dull monotony."

Ironically though, monotonous iteration of the same equation produces fractal designs of intricate and hypnotic beauty.
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Re: Iterate

Postby call_copse » Mon Sep 30, 2013 6:29 am

I'm not sure if it a particular Silicon Valley thing - I think it may have floated up from Computer Science where it means to repeat a sequence of computer instructions a specified number of times or until some other condition is met. Basically it means to run a loop. Perhaps because Silicon Valley types are familiar with programming it has gained currency.
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Re: Iterate

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Sep 30, 2013 1:05 pm

I distinguish slightly in the uses of iterate and re-interate. I tend to iterate a list, as in giving instructions. I reiterate what happened or relate my story or point the second time. Probably an incorrect usage of iterate, still...
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Re: Iterate

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Sep 30, 2013 3:03 pm

I hope I am straight on iterate and reiterate now. I always understood the noun interation to be a single instance of a part of a computer program. Perhaps that is wrong. As a verb I was accustomed to saying, "Iterate this function seven times." In the earlier computer languages, interation was done with DO Loops and IF THEN ELSE decisions.
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Re: Iterate

Postby gwray » Mon Sep 30, 2013 3:50 pm

Perry: I too distinguish between iterate and reiterate. I suspect my understanding of this word is informed by my engineering background and hence exposure to computer science. For me, to iterate is to perform a process multiple times sequentially. "In golf, one iterates through 18 holes and for each hole iteratatively strikes a small white ball until it falls into the cup." "I passed my drivers test on the third iteration." All interations will have a common character, but each iteration may be slightly different from the others. In the golf example, each hole is a little different.

In contrast, I think reiteration connotes an exact repetition - often with emphasis to indicate that a position has not changed. "June McBride reiterated that she would not date Phil Anders if he were the last man on earth."
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Re: Iterate

Postby David McWethy » Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:51 pm

If I understand the thrust of “iterate”-as-a-GW, if iterate and reiterate are one and the same because dictionaries say so, then it would follow that the same doppelganger-relationship exists between “move” and “remove”, despite the fact that the first can be accomplished by the relocation measured in tiny units while the second—to have any worth of the word at all—necessitates that the object be taken away.

To move an object and—dissatisfied with the result, move it again—requires a hyphen to make this re-moving distinction clear.

But things are seldom as simple as they may seem at first glance: If, in the course of the day’s activities, there are employees of a company who are charged with the proper handling, authorizing, filing, and other ways of “viewing” a company’s financial affairs, according to the logic (?) expressed above, to “view” is one and the same as to “review”.

So why is it necessary to waste corporate funds by hiring bean-counters to periodically “review” (A.K.A. "audit") the company’s books, when that’s already been done (when they were previously “viewed”).

Other than mentioning en passant that three years ago the verdict came forth from the Olympian source of all publishing knowledge and wisdom (or at least that which is consistent with the viewpoint of its followers), who is it that dictates that “These days iterate is a synonym of reiterate”? Not I, who stands by the notion that common sense (which occasionally stands out most by its absence) dictates that “iterate” is NOT one and the same as “reiterate”, any more than “do” is a synonym of “redo”.

Sometimes the fallacy of the pronouncements—whether from the publishing Regnant Rex of newspapers or dictionaries—make it self-evident that the clothes of common sense are not being worn by the Regent (which is not one and the same as the word's truncation: “Gent”).
"The time has come," the Walrus said, "to talk of many things...."
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Re: Iterate

Postby MTC » Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:33 pm

illiterate: (verb) to repeat, ad nauseam.
Related forms: (adv) illiterately; (noun) illiteration.

Usage: "The sun rose again and again and again in endless illiteration like* a madman mindlessly repeating the same nonsense syllable."

Note: prefer like to as despite solecism.

from the Apocrypha of MTC
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Re: Iterate

Postby Slava » Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:07 pm

I have a problem with the nouns formed from iterate and reiterate, i.e. the -ation versions. They are far from synonyms.

My browser is now on its 24th version, or what I would call an iteration. (Or do I misconstrue? :? ) It would never be called a reiteration.

Somehow I feel that a reiteration is more along the lines of an executive summary that comes at the end of a report or speech.
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Re: Iterate

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Oct 03, 2013 2:27 pm

Flammable.
Inflammable.
Etc.
It's just part of the craziness of language.
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