Printable Version
Pronunciation: hai-brid Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. An offspring produced by genetically disparate parents, a half-breed, cross-breed, mongrel, as a mule is a hybrid of a donkey and a horse. 2. Anything of mixed origin or composition, as the word television is a hybrid of Greek (tele-) and Latin (vision).

Notes: This word comes with a large family of related words. First, there is a verb, hybridize, and all the words it implies: hybridization, hybridizable, and hybridizer. Someone occupied by hybridization is a hybridist. We also have at our disposal a rarely used adjective, hybridous "having the character of a hybrid".

In Play: Driving along the highways in rural Pennsylvania, I frequently see signs in front of cornfields touting new hybrids of corn. However, flora and fauna hybrids are not the only kind of hybrids: "Lois Green can't afford an all electric car, so she drives a hybrid (electric and gasoline)."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes ultimately from Latin hybrida, a variant of hibrida "mongrel", specifically the offspring of a tame sow and a wild boar. But the evidence trail stops here. Latin probably took the word from Greek, since it seems somehow related to hubris, also spelled hybris. However, no one has yet unraveled the semantic problems this phonetic relation produces. (We all owe our pure, unmixed gratitude to Joakim Larsson of Sweden for suggesting today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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