Podcast antipodal

Printable Version
Pronunciation: æn-ti-pê-dêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Having to do with places that are on the opposite sides of the Earth. 2. Diametrically opposed, irreconcilably at odds.

Notes: This word is the adjective of a noun that usually appears in the plural, antipodes [n-ti-p-dees], which means places that are poles apart—literally. In fact the North and South Poles are perfect antipodes, which is to say they are located antipodal to each other.

In Play: Today's Good Word came about before we knew that the Earth is round and people in China were seen as walking toe-to-toe with us but on the opposite side of the planet: "Australia was a perfect criminal colony for Britain because it was almost antipodal to England." However, you can be located on opposite sides of an issue as well as a planet and be antipodal: "The attitudes of Anita Job and Robin Banks toward work are absolutely antipodal; they will never agree on what is the best kind of work."

Word History: Antipodal is based on a noun usually used in the plural, antipodes, borrowed via Latin from Greek antipous "with opposing feet", made up of anti "against, opposite" + pous (stem pod-) "foot". The Proto-Indo-European root, *pod-/ped- with the Shifty O we have seen before, gives us a perfect example of Germanic and English sound change in our word foot, for [p] is supposed to change to [f] (Latin pater : English father) and the [d] predictably becomes [t]. In Latin, Greek, and the Slavic languages, all of which changed less than the Germanic ones, the noun retained its original sounds. In Latin it became pes, pedis (whence our pedal and pedestrian), in Greek, pous, podis (whence our three-footed tripod), and in Russian today it is the preposition pod "under". (Lew Jury's attitude towards words is anything but antipodal to ours; we are glad he shares words like this with us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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