• aliquant •
æ-li-kwahnt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A number that does not divide into another number evenly, without leaving a remainder, as 3 is an aliquant of 7; the antonym of aliquot.
Notes: Today we are actually offering two Good Words: aliquant and its antonym aliquot, a number that does evenly divide into another, as 2 is the aliquot of 4, 6, 8, and so on. Obviously this word comes to us from the world of mathematics but, as we shall see below, has its purposes outside that world. It may be used adjectivally, as an aliquant number, though it is a lexical orphan with no distinct family members.
In Play: Even though today's Good Word and its antonym are historically prisoners of mathematics, their senses of "oddity" and "evenness" hold the keys to their escape: "Ali is the only aliquant of our group that keeps it from functioning smoothly." Someone who fits in evenly, without any 'remainder' would be just the opposite: "Our new hire turned out to be just the aliquot we need; she seems to fit the office staff perfectly'. Why leave this rare gem to the sciences when we all could be enjoying it?
Word History: Aliquot came from Latin aliquot "several, a few", while aliquant came from aliquantus "a certain amount of". Aliquantus was put together from alius "other, another, different" + quantus "how great?" The root of alius turns up in several words borrowed from Latin, such as alias, another name, alien, someone from another country or world, and alibi which meant "elsewhere" in Latin. Quantus is very obvious in the English borrowing quantity. Its root is kwo-, which also produced the English interrogative pronouns who, what, when and where; the last three are written WH but pronounced [hw]. Latin qui "who", quo "where", and qualis "what kind of" are all based on the same root.
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