Florida Word of the Day: Ligule

In writing the post on hastula, I found out that a hastula is like a ligule. Which I guess is fine, as far as that goes, but really, it doesn’t go very far with me. I, after all, am neither agrostologist nor graminologist, so I had no idea what a ligule might be. According to MW, ligule, or tongue, is from New Latin ligula, from Latin for small tongue or strap, fr. lingere, to lick. They define it as “a thin appendage of a foliage leaf and esp. of the sheath of a blade of grass.”

By coincidence, I just […]

Florida Word of the Day: Hastula

Today’s word is a botanical term, hastula, which I […]

Word of the Day: Fomite

The word of the day is fo·mite \ˈfō-ˌmīt\ n, pl fo·mites \-ˌmīts; ˈfäm-ə-ˌtēz, ˈfōm-\, which, according to Merriam-Webster’s online medical dictionary, is

an inanimate object (as a dish, toy, book, doorknob, or clothing) that may be contaminated with infectious organisms and serve in their transmission <the much maligned toilet seat is a remarkably ineffective fomite—M. F. Rein> <what are the most common fomites for rotavirus in day-care settings—Pediatric Report’s Child Health Newsletter>

My trusty MW Collegiate provides some interesting etymology: “back-formation fr. fomites, fr. NL [that’s New Latin], pl. of fomit-, fomes, fr. L., kindling wood; akin to L fovēre […]

Word of the day: irrupt

Today’s word is irrupt. It’s not just an alternative spelling of “erupt”; it has a specific meaning in ecology. Merriam-Webster’s 11 team defines it as follows:

ir•rupt vi [L irruptus, pp. of irrumpere, fr. in- + rumpere to break — more at REAVE] of a natural population : to undergo a sudden upsurge in numbers esp. when the natural ecological balances and checks are disturbed.

While the etymology seems sound (to break into, basically), this is an unsatisfying definition on several levels. For one, it implies that the word applies especially or more strongly when there has been an ecological […]

Word of the day: protoctist

Today’s word is fairly hardcore. A couple of months ago, I talked about the different ways scientists (biologists, taxonomists, zoologists, botanists, etc.) categorize life on Earth into five kingdoms (the Prokaryote superkingdom consisting solely of Bacteria, and the Eukaryote superkingdom, which contains the remaining 4 kingdoms: Protoctista, Animalia, Fungi, and Plantae).

Since then, I’ve been reading a lot of fun stuff (Tolkien, Herbert, comic books, Elmo board books, find the truck/train/car/plane/boat books), and hadn’t gotten back to my Margulis and Chapman until today. After all, it has a Lot of Hard Words In It.

But I knew I had to […]

Florida word of the day: raindrop

Although south Florida’s rainy season has been officially over for a few weeks now, that doesn’t mean that we won’t get any more rain for the year. Far from it. After all, the “dry” season still has cold fronts pushing down from up north, and these are usually preceded by at least some measure of precipitation. And since we got a front just this week, courtesy of the late-season tropical storm Ida (the link will take you to the National Hurricane Center’s awesome graphic loop taking you through the storm’s wind history), I thought now would be a good time […]

Florida word of the day: pickerelweed

In my day job, I spend a lot of time with my nose in dictionaries and style manuals. And today, while thumbing through Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition* (you see why in the trade we call it MW11), I ran across a headword (MW11 calls them “guide words”) that I actually know something about, and, what’s more, is on topic for a blog about nature in south Florida: pickerelweed.

Here is what the MW team has to say about the plant:

pick·er·el·weed \-,wed** n (1836) : a shallow-water monocotyledonous perennial plant (Pontederia cordata) chiefly of the eastern U.S. and Canada […]