Printable Version
Pronunciation: vai-rê-sfeer Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: The world of viruses, all the environments that host viruses.

Notes: Today's Good Word is slowly creeping into the general language from the medical one. I just googled it and received 17,200 results. The adjective, virospheric, has already arisen. Can virospherically be far behind?

In Play: Virosphere is hardly a word to play with, since it is a recent escapee from medical terminology: "One of the most concentrated areas of the virosphere is the cabins of airplanes; I get flu a good percentage of times I fly." The New York Times recently reported that trillions of viruses fall to Earth each day from a belt of viruses encircling the planet in the virosphere.

Word History: Today's Good Word is a compound of Latin virus + English sphere. The Latin word virus "poison, malodorous fluid" probably comes from a PIE root weis- "to melt away, to flow". This word would also be the source of Sanskrit visam "poison", Latin viscum "sticky substance", Greek ios "poison", Russian višnja "red cherry", and Welsh gwaed "blood". Sphere was taken by English from the Latin spelling of Greek sphaira "globe, ball", a word of unknown origin.

Dr. Goodword,

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