metathesis

Pronounced: muh-TATH-uh-sis, noun

Notes: Something that some people do more than others


Yesterday’s word

The word precipitate means

  • falling, flowing, or rushing with steep descent
  • precipitous; steep
  • exhibiting violent of unwise speed
First usage

This word goes back to the early-to-mid 1500s

Background / Comments

Words snobs (sorry if you consider yourself one – how about ‘usage commentator’?) have long tried to insist that precipitate and precipitous should be distinct adjectives: they say that precipitate means “headlong or impetuous” and precipitous means only “steep”. On their side of the argument, these are indeed the way these words are usually used. However, the argument against is that the words have have overlapping usage for centuries. Samuel Johnson’s dictionary (1755) listed “steeply falling” as one definition of precipitate, and defined precipitous as “steeply falling; headlong; hasty”. Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary had similar definitions. Both word comes from the Latin word praeceps (headlong).

Published by Richard

Christian, lover-of-knowledge, Texan, and other things.

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