• logistics •
lê-jis-tiks • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass & plural
Meaning: The management of the details of an operation.
Notes: This word is interesting because its number is unclear: you may say "logistics is" or "logistics are". Many people think that the suffix -s marks only plural nouns but, like all English suffixes, this one performs several functions. Semantics, linguistics, physics are common words that end on -s but are singular. -S in these cases is simply a suffix that makes a noun out of an adjective. Logistics is different because, semantically, it refers to many separate actions, so it sounds OK to say "logistics are". In reality, however, it is just another singular noun on -s.
In Play: Logistics is a good word to keep in play all the time: "George, Lucille can't go to the prom with you tonight because the logistics of getting her gown over her new hairdo is beyond the capacity of the whole family." In fact, dating involves a logistics all its own: "In high school, Phil Anders was a master of the logistics of getting his girl friends out and back into their houses without having to talk to their parents."
Word History: Today we get the Good Word from French logistiques "logics" from logistique "logic" which came from Medieval Latin logisticus "related to calculations". The semantic connection should be clear: logistics comprised the logical steps in carrying out any complex operation. The root originated as Proto-Indo-European (PIE) *leg-/log- "to collect; to speak." That is it in collect, of course, but also the leg- in legal, since the word of kings was at one time the law. My favorite is leech, which comes from Old English læce "physician", originally someone who spoke magic words. Later on, that name slipped over to the annelid worms physicians applied to the bodies of their patients to reduce blood pressure. Serbian lekar "doctor" and Polish lekarstwo "medicine" came by the same way.