• subduction •
Pronunciation: sêb-dêk-shên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass
Meaning: The application of duct tape to the bottom of something, usually to hold it up but also for decoration.
Notes: Today's ducky little word for the first day in April comes from a large family of duct tape derivations. Superduction refers to placing duct tape over something, as the duck to the left demonstrates, while circumduction refers to running duct tape all the way around something, as in, "Victoria's wardrobe emphasizes circumduction." (Click here for an explanation.) Abduction, of course, means binding someone's hands with duct tape and carting them off. Seduction, of course, leads to little ductlings.
In Play: This word, more than anything else, proves that duct tape is duct tape and not duck tape, an issue that has plagued linguists for decades: "When Marvin threw the duct tape to Eldridge, the latter yelled to Benito, 'Duck! Tape!'" This is probably how the misnomer "duck tape" arose. (Click here for an alternative explication.) The normal use of today's goodly word, of course, goes something like this: "The light fixture was held to the ceiling by subduction."
Word History: Part of the duck tape-duct tape confusion comes from the history of this term. This word comes from Latin subductio(n-) "the sticky stuff under ducks", based on sub "an underwater vessel" + duct "duck, stickiness" + ion "tape". The root, duct- comes from Latin ductus, ducdu- "ducky, sticky". Anyone who has tasted the sauce on Peking Duck knows how sticky these birds can be when prepared for consumption. The suffix -ion comes from Latin ionere "to iron on tape" from ion "iron tape". When you put the three together, you get—well, you know. (Our gratitude to a newcomer, April Phule of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, for today's controversial word. (Click here before contacting us about any errors you might have found in today's word.)