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Saturday: October 1, 2005

Pedantic Etymology

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:56 PM UTC

Mark in Mexico‘s heart is in the right place, but ‘hemoclism’ is not Greek for ‘blood flood’. The first stem should be ‘hemato-’ (or ‘haemato-’), not ‘hemo-’. The second half is also questionable: a klismós is a ‘couch’, not a ‘flood’, so ‘hematoclism’ is out unless you are trying to say ‘blood couch’. ‘Hematoclysm’ is better, but the Greek word for ‘flood, deluge’ is not the simple noun klúsma but the compound kataklusmós. Klúsma means ‘wash’ (the noun), in various senses: either ‘surf’, or ‘sea beach’, or ‘enema’. ‘Hematocataclysm’ would do. If that is too unwieldy, perhaps a ‘hurricane of blood’ would be better: ‘hematothuella’. There are other words for storm, and that is not the only possible metaphor, so something more compact may be possible. Greek and Latin are not always more succinct than English, though the rhyme in ‘blood flood’ is annoying and ‘blood storm’ sounds like one of the more brutal video games.

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