• diadromous •
Pronunciation: dai-æ-drê-mês • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. (Botany) Having veins radiating in the shape of a fan. 2. Capable of living in salt water or fresh water, or migrating from salt water to fresh water in order to breed.
Notes: Today's word is rarely used outside biology, but it has many cousins. Anadromous refers to fish that live in the sea but breed in fresh water (shad and salmon), and catadromous refers to fish that live in fresh water and breed in the sea. Potamodromous should refer to fish that live and breed in rivers, but it may refer to fish that live and breed in any fresh water.
In Play: Some people think a vegetarian is someone who eats only vegetables and animals that are vegetarians. However, pescatarians may find this a useful word: "Aida Fish is a pescatarian who limits her consumption to diadromous fish." But why limit the use of this word to piscatorial references? "Brooke Trout is diadromous, spending winters by the ocean and summers at her lake-front cottage."
Word History: Today's Good Word comes to us from Greek, specifically dia- "across" + dromos "running", the noun from dramein "to run". Modern Greek diádromos means "corridor". We find the Greek root in several Indo-European languages, including English dromedary, from the Greek phrase dromas kamelos "running camel". The Greek root points to a Proto-Indo-European word drem- "to run", which we find in several Indo-European languages. The equivalent of Russian aerodrom "airport, runway" may be found in English aerodrome. Then we have hippodrome "horse race course", actually for chariot races, from hippos "horse" + dromos "race, running". In Serbian we find drum "highway" and in Danish, trimle "roll over, tumble, fall". (Today's rather arcane Good Word came on the recommendation of an old friend of this series, Pattie Tancred of Australia.)