I got this from my A Word A Day email today. Mostly, I just like the sound of the word (imagine the Beastie Boys saying it), but I think it also might be useful:

illation (i-LAY-shuhn) noun

1. The act of inferring.

2. An inference or conclusion drawn.

[From Late Latin illation-, from Latin illatus, past participle
of inferre (to bring in), from il- + ferre (to carry).]

What could today’s word have in common with terms such as fertile, transfer, refer, and circumference? They all derive from the same Latin root ferre (to carry).

PatrickWords01/27/04 2 comments


David • 01/28/04 4:40 PM:

Word origins have become very fascinating to me - especially as a teacher of science. Just today I had the kiddos read an article from Nature about how Krypton was coaxed into reacting and combining with carbon and some other stuff. The article was great and concise, with awesome information. They point out the krypton comes from the word “hidden” and xenon from the word for “stranger”. They were named so because of the difficulty in extracting them from air. So we discussed the uses of the elements root word in our language. At least I thought it was cool.

ps. Argon comes from the Greek for “lazy”. (although no explanation included)

Patrick • 02/01/04 10:22 AM:

Isn’t it fun/curious how we like the one-step-away mystery of words? It wouldn’t be nearly as cool if the elements were named “Hidden,” “Stranger,” and “Lazy” (though they’d make a cool movie with Snow White). In fact, these are way better than new elements like Californium and Einsteinium and stuff like that. I guess it depends on the scientist who discovers the elements and his/her yen for language.

My specific alcove of language is the confluence of English and Spanish. You may remember my joy at discovering the word quotidian (everyday), which I had hoped for since learning cotidiano in Spanish. I learned another cool shared word recently, actually a word borrowed into English: disembogue, which comes from disembocar and which you may be able to guess means something about coming out of the mouth. It’s the verb for a river meeting a larger body of water. The Mississippi River disembogues in New Orleans (unless it doesn’t).

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