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A.Word.A.Day--cenotaph

Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

This week's words are created using combining forms. What are combining forms? You can think of them as the Legos of language.

As the name indicates, a combining form is a linguistic atom that occurs only in combination with some other form. This other form could be a word, another combining form, or an affix (a prefix or suffix). Unlike a combining form, an affix can't attach to another affix to form a standalone word by itself.

When coining a new word, these ready-made building blocks of the language come in handy. Let's say we need a new insult word, a fancy word to describe someone as brainless. We could start with ceno- (empty), add -cephalic (relating to the head) to it, and our new word is ready: cenocephalic.

This week we'll see words made using these combining forms: ceno- (empty), endo- (within), seti- (bristle), nocti- (night), and geo- (earth). Happy word crafting!

cenotaph (SEN-uh-taf) noun

A tomb or a monument in honor of a person (or a group) whose remains are elsewhere.

[Via French and Latin, from Greek kenotaphion, from kenos (empty) + taphos (tomb).]

Check out the pictures of cenotaphs around the world.

See more usage examples of cenotaph in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

-Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)

"Then I joined the throngs at the cenotaph inscribed NEVER AGAIN, at an eternal flame above a reflecting pool, and at the crane-festooned statue of Sadako Sasaki, a bomb victim who died at the age of twelve while attempting to fold a thousand paper cranes in the hope this would prolong her life." Samuel Day Jr.; Two Hiroshimas; The Progressive (Madison, Wisconsin); Aug 1994.

X-Bonus

Having been unable to strengthen justice, we have justified strength. -Blaise Pascal, philosopher and mathematician (1623-1662)

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