• amblyopia •
æm-bli-ow-pi-yê • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)
Meaning: Dim or impaired vision without apparent physical defect, especially when occurring in one eye, when it is known as 'lazy eye'.
Notes: Today we have a term that at one time only inhabited medical vocabularies. Nowadays it is freely used by all English speakers with extensive vocabularies. The adjective is amblyopic, though it may be extended by -al: amblyopical. You must use the extension in spelling the adverb, amblyopically, even though it isn't pronounced.
In Play: In case you have an ambitious friend with lazy eye and you don't wish to imply that he or she is lazy, here is a word you may use with friends with large vocabularies: "Don't let Oscar's amblyopia mislead you; he is exceptionally talented and ambitious." However, figurative uses abound. The caption from an article in The Economist Expresso on-line of July 26, 2017 was "Amblyopia: a busy day on Capitol Hill".
Word History: Today's Good Word is a fair copy of Greek amblyopia "dim-sightedness", a noun based on the adjective amblyopos "dim-sighted", made up of amblys "dull" + op-s "eye" + -ia, an abstract noun suffix. Some etymologists see amblys as a metathesized version of mel- "soft". If true, this assumption would relate the Greek word with English melt, Serbian mlad, and Russian molodoi "young". Greek ops "eye", believe it or not, comes from PIE okw- "see, eye", like Latin oculus "eye". In the Germanic languages it became Auge in German and eage in Old English, which is eye today in Modern English. (George Kovac could not be amblyopic to have spotted today's fascinating Good Word and recommended it.)
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