Printable Version
Pronunciation: me-dê-vêrs Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A computer generated environment in which users can interact with each other and virtual objects. 2. All virtual spaces collectively or the virtual space they occupy.

Notes: This word is another new one creeping into our vocabulary from the networked computer world. It appears in a few dictionaries, but due to its rarity of its usage, they can't agree on the meaning. The sense above is where its semantics seem to be drifting.

In Play: Here is a first stab at the usage of metaverse: "The social personalities we form in the metaverse of the 21st century will no doubt differ remarkably from those shaped by sublunary physical contact in the 20th." The second sense of this word might be expressed this way: "Our universe may be just one of many such floating around in a metaverse."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a blend of meta- "change, higher, second order" + (uni)verse, created first by Neil Stephenson in his novel Snow Crash (1992). The combining form meta- was copped from the Greek preposition meta "among, between; after, behind", derived from PIE me-t- "middle", source also of German mit "(together) with" and Mitte "middle". Universe comes to us from Latin universum "all things, the whole world", created from unus "one" + versus, the past participle of vertere "to turn, change, convert". Unus evolved from PIE oi-no- "one, unique", source also of English one, German ein, Lithuanian vienas, and Irish aon, all meaning "one". Vertere comes from PIE wer- "to turn", which became vertet' "to turn" in Russian, German werden "to become, turn into". (also the future auxiliary), and English -ward, as in homeward, toward, eastward.

Dr. Goodword,

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