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Torpid

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Torpid

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Sep 30, 2013 8:44 pm

• torpid •


Pronunciation: tor-pid • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Lethargic, sluggish, slow, phlegmatic, lacking strength or enthusiasm. 2. (A hibernating animal) Dormant, enjoying reduced metabolic activity. 3. Dull, apathetic, lacking vigor.

Notes: Today's is a good word for anyone or anything showing slowness as if from heaviness. It comes with an adverb, torpidly, and several nouns. Torpor is the most popular by far. However, torpidity still haunts the Oxford English Dictionary. If you don't like either of these, you might try torpitude, a rarity these days.

In Play: Feel free to use this word for anyone you see dragging along at work: "Gladys Friday seems unusually torpid today; anything bothering her?" It may be used with any abstract nouns normally associated with such adjectives as active, quick, and the like: "I love to read the memos from the boss to see what his torpid mind can come up with."

Word History: Today's Good Word was taken from Latin torpidus "benumbed" from torpere "be stiff, be numb". We snatched the noun, torpor, straight from Latin torpor "numbness, torpor", without so much as a fare-thee-well. Torpor comes from the Proto-Indo-European root (s)ter- "stiff" with a Fickle S. Greek retained the initial S in its word stereos "solid", a word which wandered into English in stereophonic (= solid sounding) to be later reduced to simply stereo. This root was transformed to tirpstu "to become rigid" in Lithuanian. In Old English it turned up in steorfan "to die", which did not make it down to Modern English. (We now bow in no torpid respect to Susan Ardith, who suggested today's slow-moving Good Word.)
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Re: Torpid

Postby MTC » Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:39 pm

For reasons that probably would not shock you, "torpedo" comes from the same Latin word for numbness; first came the ray (Torpediniformes) which numbs its victims with an electric shock , then the waterborne weapon which numbs with its brisance. On the sunny, less destructive side, hummingbirds are able to race around with a supercharged metabolism by conserving energy in a daily torpor or noctivation. See http://www.fws.gov/nwrs/threecolumn.aspx?id=2147491782
Well, feeling a bit torpid. Time for my daily nap now...
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Re: Torpid

Postby Pepshort » Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:34 am

Wondering if there's a connection with 'stupor', and/or ultimately with either rigor (stiff) or mortis (death)
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Re: Torpid

Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Oct 01, 2013 11:23 am

In actual use, stereo came quickly to refer to two or more speakers as opposed to one speaker, or monophonic.

Re morbid, it's ancestor is Latin mortus or death, maybe not related to torpid, though the dead are certainly numb!
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Re: Torpid

Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:57 pm

I once had a 'quadraphonic': four speakers.
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Re: Torpid

Postby Slava » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:44 am

Pepshort wrote:Wondering if there's a connection with 'stupor', and/or ultimately with either rigor (stiff) or mortis (death)

Ask a "stupor" question, get a "stupid" answer:

Other than the fact they all mean a form of numbness, I can't find one. Stupor is a deadness caused by a shock or blow, torpor is from some effect of heaviness, rigor is stiffness or hardness. (Gee, I wonder, is that why bodies are called "stiffs?" :) )

Stupid and stupor are related. They go back to the idea of having been struck senseless.
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Re: Torpid

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Oct 03, 2013 2:29 pm

Stupor always results from a shock or a blow?
Then why am I in a stupor every morning for an hour or two after I get up? My dreams aren't that dramatic!
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Re: Torpid

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:13 pm

Perhaps the shock of waking up another day
above ground :) ?
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Re: Torpid

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:53 pm

Or mentally I never left my teenage years. Physically of course...
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Re: Torpid

Postby Slava » Fri Oct 04, 2013 3:10 pm

Perry Lassiter wrote:Stupor always results from a shock or a blow?
Then why am I in a stupor every morning for an hour or two after I get up? My dreams aren't that dramatic!

Yet, if you think about it, you are recovering from having been senseless. Sleep does have that effect, no?
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