• rhinorrhea •
rai-nê-ree-yê • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass (No plural)
Meaning: No, not a rhino's upset tummy; simply the medical term for a runny nose.
Notes: Doctors seem to like the first element of this Good Word; it turns up in many medical terms, such as rhinoplasty "a nose job" and rhinorragia "a nosebleed". Rhinophonia, as I'm sure you are well aware, is not an orchestra of nose blowers, but the resonance of the nose, which causes the speech of some of us to sound a bit nasal. Of course a rhinoceros is an animal with a "nose horn" that it cannot play but can use effectively in combat. Rhinorreal would be the adjective.
In Play: Now that pollen season is spreading across North America, we thought of a word to express this pesky condition that is more impressive than the usual phrase: "Sorry I missed work last week, but I had a terrible attack of rhinorrhea." Not only will your boss be impressed with your vocabulary and more apt to forgive you, he will probably avoid further contact with you, providing you with greater opportunities to skip work. And why risk your reputation as an articulate logophile by calling someone a snotty jerk when you can actually build your reputation by calling them a rhinorrheal smellfungus? Now, that nosy phrase is a lexical marriage made in heaven.
Word History: The classical root rhinos "of the nose" comes from Greek rhis, rhin- "nose". Connect it to rhoia "a flow", related to our stream, and you have created today's Good Word. Rhinos is most famous for rhinoceros, the one with the nose horn, based on "rhinos" + keras "horn." In fact, keras and horn derive from the same original Proto-Indo-European root. Greek karoton "carrot", which entered English via Latin carota "carrot", also comes from the same root, due to the carrot's horn-like shape.
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