May 22nd, 2014

words are sexy

Thursday word: venin

venin (VEN-in, VEE-nin) - n., any of the poisonous substances of animal venom.


So not a specific compound -- if it's in an animal venom and it is one of the compounds that makes it toxic, then it's a venin. There's some confusion in dictionaries about the origin of the word, with the bulk of them claiming it was coined by taking venom and sticking the chemical suffix -in onto it -- but more likely, it's an adoption of French venin, poison/venom, from the Continental chemists who first investigated them. Both venom and venin are ultimately the same word, though -- with the former adopted from French in Anglo-Norman times, from Old French venim/venin, from Latin venēnum, which was both a magical herb or potion/poison, from conjectural root *wenes-, desire (the same that gives us venerate and Venus), thus conflating the two most common purposes of potions in Roman magic, poison and love.

Through repeated exposure, I have made myself immune to the venins of the black widow -- though a bite still hurts like hell, dammit.

---L.