Printable Version
Pronunciation: trnz-poz Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1.To switch places, to interchange, to put A in B's position and B in A's position. 2. (Mathematics) To move a term from one side of an equation to the other. 3. (Music) To convert a musical piece to another key.

Notes: Today's word is the progenitor of a large family of derivatives. There is an active and passive adjective, transpositive "can transpose, transposes" and transposable "can be transposed." Someone, say, a musician, who transposes is a transposer, and the act or result of transposing is a transposition. So, after the transposition of a piece of music from C major to A major, the version in A major is a transposition (of the version in C major). The noun, transposition has its own adjective, transpositional and an adverb, transpositionally.

In Play: Many languages permit the transposition of words. In German, for instance, you create questions by transposing the subject and verb of the equivalent positive statement: Sie geht ins Kino "She is going to the movies" becomes a question if you transpose the first two words: Geht sie ins kino? "Is she going to the movies." English learners often erroneously transpose the middle [e] and [i] when writing receive.

Word History: This word comes from Old French transposer, an alteration, influenced by poser "to put, place", of Latin transponere "to transfer". The Latin word is composed of trans "over, across" + ponere "to put". Trans comes from the same Proto-Indo-European root, ter "pass over, through", that became in English through and thorough, not to mention thrill, which originally referred to a hole, as in the nose hole known as the nos-tril. Avatar "embodiment, symbol" comes from Sanskrit avatar, a deity so named because he could transform into human or animal form. That name reduces to ava "down" + tarati "he crosses" from the same root.

Dr. Goodword,

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