zai-mêr-jee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. That branch of applied chemistry that deals with fermentation, such as that involved in wine-making or brewing. 2. The practice or art of fermentation in brewing, distilling, wine-making, and so forth.
Notes: This rather rare word would be an excellent play in a game of Scrabble. It is analogical to metallurgy, liturgy, and dramaturgy, so it has an adjective, zymurgical, and an adverb, zymurgically, but that is the extent of its derivational family.
In Play: If you don't want your friends to be certain about the shady activities of your relatives, today's is a word that can help you out in certain situations: "Uncle Skeeter was caught in an act of zymurgy somewhere out in the woods by the revenuers. I don't think he was making merlot." Of course, zymurgy can also be a perfectly legitimate academic pursuit, too: "While writing his master's thesis on the zymurgy of the grape, Felix accidentally fell into a vat of his subject matter and nearly drowned."
Word History: Less is known about the origin of this word than is known about the bug itself. It is common to say that it comes from New Latin Zyzzyva, a genus name, probably from Zyzza, a former genus of leafhoppers. The reason for the mystery of this word's origin is probably that it is an onomatopoetic word based on the sound bugs make, especially beetles, when they fly.
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