Printable Version
Pronunciation: no-si-sep-têr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: A sensory receptor (afferent nerve) that responds to pain.

Notes: This word's primary haunt is medical vocabulary, but as our ageing population becomes more and more medically savvy, its relevance increases. The adjective for this word is nociceptive "related to pain or the response to it".

In Play: Here is a way to introduce this word into normal conversations: "Wow! That chiliburger sent my nociceptors into raging fit!" The adjective may be used in similar situations: "When my rocking chair came down on the dog's tail, it sent her into nociceptive howls."

Word History: Today's Good Word was created in 1906 by backformation from nociceptive, which first appeared in print in 1904 in an article in Nature, a weekly journal of science. It comprises Latin noci-, the stem of nocere "to do harm" + cept-, the combining form of capere "to take, to hold" + -ive, an adjective suffix. Noci- was inherited from PIE nek-/nok- "death", source also of Sanskrit nasyati "disappears, perishes", Greek nekros "corpse", and Latin nex ([nek-s]) "violent death, murder". Latin also created noxius "harmful", to which English simply added an O to create noxious. Capere comes from PIE kap- "grasp, grab", a source shared by Greek kope "handle", Latin capulum "handle", English haft "wooden tool handle" and have. Latin also created captivus "captive, prisoner" from the past participle of capere, captus "captured, seized". English merely changed the ending for its captive. (Let's now thank Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira doubly for suggesting today's fascinating Good Word and for editing the GW series since its inception.)

Dr. Goodword,

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