• tellurian •
te-lu-ri-yên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun
Meaning: 1. [Adjective] Related to the Earth. 2. [Noun] An Earthling, an inhabitant of the Earth. 3. [Noun] (also tellurion) An apparatus that demonstrates the passage of night and day on Earth.
Notes: Today's Good Word is an adjective that works just as well as a noun. As a noun, it offers us a more alluring alternative to earthling, which suggests a small earth (compare its suffix in duckling, gosling, fingerling). Tellurians sounds much more the equal of the Arcturians, Ewoks, Klingons, and Vogons of Star Trek, Star Wars, and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy than does Earthlings.
In Play: "World-wide" is another hackneyed word that we can give a rest by using tellurian: "The recent spread of the US financial crisis throughout the world has proven just how tellurian today's financial system is." Today's Good Word implies that, despite cultural differences, we are all in this together: "The major challenges facing tellurians today are the protection of the planet and reversing the trend of global warming."
Word History: Today's word goes back to Latin tellus, telluris "Earth", a word based on an older root meaning "flat" and "board, plank", objects known for their flatness. We find the same root in Greek telia "board". It came down through Proto-Germanic to Old English as theal or thele "floor" but did not make it past Old English. The British word deal "a seven by three-inch pine plank" may be related, though the initial D is difficult to explain.
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