Printable Version
Pronunciation: lim-nah-lê-ji Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: The scientific study of freshwater bodies, especially lakes.

Notes: Today's word comes with the complete panoply of lexical relatives that come with all nouns on -ology. The adjective is limnological, and the adverb is limnologically. We call someone engaged in this study a limnologist. A limnometer is a gadget for recording the level of a lake and limnophilous refers to organisms that prefer living in ponds or lakes.

In Play: Limnology is encountered far less often than oceanography even though it is the freshwater equivalent of oceanography. What would make someone want to go into this field? Maybe this: "An active swimmer who loves the lake behind his house, after graduation Ford Rivers decided to take on graduate work in limnology."

Word History: The term limnology was coined by François-Alphonse Forel (1841-1912), famous for his studies of Lake Geneva. Forel combined Greek limne "pool, marsh, lake" with -ology "study of", from Greek logos "word, idea". Limne is related to Latin limus "mud", derived from PIE (s)lei-m-/(s)loi-m- "slime, slimy, slippery", source also of English slime, lime and loam, German Schleim "slime", Icelandic slím "slime", Scottish Gaelic sleamhainn and Irish sleamhain "slippery", Dutch slijm "slime, phlegm", Norwegian slim "mucus", and Latin linere "to smear". With other suffixes we find Russian sliz' "slime, mucus", Bulgarian sluz "mucus", and Icelandic slétt "smooth". (Today's fascinating but little known lexical gem was discovered by Maureen Koplow who, thankfully, shared it with us as today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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