Vermiform

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Dr. Goodword
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Vermiform

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:44 pm

• vermiform •


Pronunciation: vêr-mê-form • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Worm-like, shaped like a worm: long, thin, cylindrical, and flexible.

Notes: If you like vermicelli, you might prefer skipping today's word as we delve into its distasteful origin below. The root of this word, verm-, appears in many words referring to worms, including vermiculture, raising worms for fishing and soil improvement, and vermicide, a chemical worm-killer. Nothing much is made of vermiform itself; we may create a noun, vermiformness, if we need it desperately.

In Play: Because of a general dislike of worms in Western European cultures, we must be careful how we use this word: "Well, you could have said 'long, slender fingers'; you didn't have to tell her that you enjoyed the movement of her vermiform digits as she played the piano." However, we do find multitudinous opportunities to use this word in everyday conversation: "Cookie Baker refuses to eat eel because of her aversion to all vermiform creatures."

Word History: Today's Good if repugnant Word drifted down to us through our lexical lending library, French, from Latin vermiformis "worm-like", a compound adjective made up of vermis "worm" + forma "form" + the adjective suffix -is. Yes, yes, the same word came to English via its Germanic roots as worm. It ended up in Greek as rhomos "worm" and Lithuanian as varmas "bug, mosquito". A little worm in Latin was vermiculus, a word that went on to become Italian vermicelli "little worms" (sorry, it's true). This word wandered down to French as vermeillon "vermillion", Portuguese vermelho "red", and Catalan vermell "red" as a result of the fact that the Romans originally obtained this color by crushing the vermiform larva of an insect (Kermes vermilio). Some Slavic languages follow the same worm-red logic, such as Czech červený from červ "worm" and Polish czerwony "red" from czerw "maggot".(Well, it is easy to worm a note of gratitude to Raven Edwards from my vermiform fingers today for her suggestion of this fascinating Good Word.)
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call_copse
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Re: Vermiform

Postby call_copse » Thu Sep 28, 2017 9:38 am

I like seeing worms writhing when I go to my compost bin.

I also like the feelings of disgust evoked by the 'your spaghetti was worms!' bit in Roald Dahl's great short story The Twits. Your spaghetti was vermiform may not have the same effect.
Iain

George Kovac
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Re: Vermiform

Postby George Kovac » Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:22 am

Dr. Goodword wrote:
Because of a general dislike of worms in Western European cultures, we must be careful how we use this word: "Well, you could have said 'long, slender fingers'; you didn't have to tell her that you enjoyed the movement of her vermiform digits as she played the piano."



Or he could have said he "enjoyed the movement of her leptodactylous fingers as she played the piano."
“The messy layers of human experience get pulled together, and sometimes ordered, by words.” Colum McCann “But Always Meeting Ourselves” New York Times, June 15, 2009

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Slava
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Re: Vermiform

Postby Slava » Wed Dec 27, 2017 5:14 pm

Then again, we do speak of the Diet of Worms, not of Vermicelli. :D

Anyone know where the name came from?
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bnjtokyo
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Re: Vermiform

Postby bnjtokyo » Thu Dec 28, 2017 5:08 am

Slava, your question is unclear. Which word are you asking about?

Vermicelli: Merriam-Webster says "borrowed from Italian, plural of vermicello, diminutive of verme "worm," going back to Latin vermis"

Diet: the Online Etymology Dictionary says "diet (n.2)
"assembly," mid-15c., from Medieval Latin dieta, variant of diaeta "daily office (of the Church), daily duty, assembly, meeting of counselors," from Greek diaita (see diet (n.1)), but associated with Latin dies "day" (from PIE root *dyeu- "to shine")."

I omit "of."

Worms is a German city and this website
http://wikimapia.org/2120740/City-of-Worms
explains the origin of its name as follows
"Worms (pronounced [voɐms]) is a city in the southwest of Germany. Its name is of Celtic origin: Borbetomagus meant "settlement in a watery area". This was eventually transformed into the Latin name Vormatia that had been in use since the 6th century."

Diet of Worms
There were many Imperial Diets (in the sense of "assembly") held in Worms since the Middle Ages when Worms was an important administrative city in the Holy Roman Empire. "The Diet of Worms" usually refers to the Diet held in 1521 that issued the Edict of Worms that declared Martin Luther a heretic.

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Slava
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Re: Vermiform

Postby Slava » Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:44 pm

Thanks for looking it up. I had the city in mind.

Fun seeing that Borbetomagus ended up as Worms.
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.


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