February 27th, 2015

words are sexy

Thursday word: cohobate

I managed to somehow miss that yesterday was Thursday -- not the first time I've gotten the day wrong this week, which has gotten all mixed-up. So to celebrate (?!), here's a mixing word:

cohobate (KOH-hoh-bait) - v.t., to re-distill (a substance) by pouring it back into the matter remaining in the still.

This is an alchemical term carried over into early chemistry and, especially, pharmacology. It looks like it may even have been introduced by Paracelsus himself (he who gave us bombast from his name) -- and certainly comes from Medieval Latin cohobāre, over which there is some dispute. Some hold the original meaning of the Latin is to give a darker color to (a distilled liquid), and trace it to Arabic qohba, brownish color, while others trace the repeated distillation sense to Arabic ka`aba, to repeat an action. By way of example, from The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex:

"Peach-flowers, and of Worm-wood of each a pint and half; let them be digested in a Glass-Vessel three days, then distil them; cohobate this."

cat in dress
  • med_cat

Friday word: Diphtong

#10: Diphthong


two vowel sounds joined in one syllable to form one speech sound, e.g. the sounds of "ou" in out and of "oy" in boy


"A glitch refers to some piece of technology's failure to do something it's intended to do. But Siri is doing exactly what it was built to do…. Siri would have an actual glitch if it couldn't understand diphthongs or something." — Damon Poeter, PC Magazine, December 1, 2011

About the Word:

Evoking the dual nature of diphthongs themselves, the word diphthong retains the two parts in its Greek ancestor diphthongos: di- meaning "two" and phthongos meaning "sound" or "voice."

The word is a bit strange-looking to English speakers, a fact reflected in the two pronunciations the word has, one with a first syllable of /dif/ and one with a first syllable of /dip/.

(Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/top-ten-lists/top-10-funny-sounding-and-interesting-words/diphthong.html)