Printable Version
Pronunciation: su-pêr-poz Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: To place on, over or above something else, superimpose.

Notes: This word apparently has never left the domain of science. It's about time is does. It's competitor, superimpose, is restricted to literally placing something over something else. I do not see such a limitation on today's Good Word. This verb has a synonym, superposit, which leads to the adjective superpository. The noun, of course, is superposition.

In Play: Among the sciences, today's word is used like this: "Successive layers of lava are superposed one over another" (or "superimposed one on the other"). However, since science allows metaphorical usage, why not elsewhere? "I think Sylvester's promotion is thoroughly justified even if it does superpose him above people with more seniority."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes to us from French superposer "place over", direct descendant of Latin superponere "to place over". The French substitution of N with S resulted from the French use of the past participle, superpositus, of the Latin verb for its verb. The Latin verb comprises super "above, over" + ponere "to put, place". In Greek, the same PIE word that produced super in Latin became hyper in Greek. English borrowed so many words beginning with super and hyper that it converted both to distinct English adjectives. We can only guess where ponere came from. However, Old French turned its version of the Latin verb, posar, into pausar and it picked up a new meaning. Middle English nicked it, converting it to pause. (Our debt is yet again to the legal mind of George Kovac for his recommendation of today's lexical treasure, all but hidden among the arcanities of the sciences.)

Dr. Goodword,

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