Printable Version
Pronunciation: sahr-kê-pee-ni-ê Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: Loss of muscle mass and the resulting loss of strength caused by ageing.

Notes: This word is pretty much limited to the medical world. It is seldom if ever used in general conversation. It is related to such medical terms as osteopenia "reduction of the mineral content of bones (but less than osteoporosis), leukopenia "reduction in the number of white blood cells", and lymphopenia "reduction in the number of lymphocytes in the blood".

In Play: Loss of strength as a result of ageing is the only meaning of today's Good Word: "Growing old is a medical adventure, learning how to deal with deterioration of eyesight, hearing loss. loss of your sense of balance and sarcopenia."

Word History: This Good Word was created from Greek sarx (sark-s) "meat, flesh" + penia "deficiency, poverty". Greek added a suffix -k to Proto-Indo-European ser-/sor- "red" to develop sarx. We find Latvian sarks "blush" and Lithuanian sirpti "to ripen" in the Baltic languages. We have also seen this Greek word used in sarcophagus. Latin used the same PIE stem for pene "missing, lacking", which underlies Medieval Latin penuria "lack, loss", penitentia "penitence", and penitentiary "place to do penitence". English borrowed these words for its penury "poverty", penitence, and penitentiary. (Today's Good word was donated by Lexiterian Tomasz Kowaltowski, a five-year veteran of the Alpha Agora.)

Dr. Goodword,

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