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This week's theme
Why use a simple word?

This week's words
dactylogram
apograph
argillaceous
maquillage
pleonexia

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Once in a while delivery of this newsletter is delayed and messages start pouring into my mailbox complaining of withdrawal symptoms. "Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind," British writer Joseph Rudyard Kipling said, and that might help explain why some of us get so hooked on them.

As time passes, we experience symptoms of mithridatism, the condition of immunity acquired by taking gradually increased doses of something (coined after Mithridates VI, king of Pontus, who tried to build immunity against poisoning). Slowly they take over and we realize we need words with even greater potency, words that are unusual, esoteric, or even preposterous, to get a still greater high.

Are you one of those for whom the dictionary might be better characterized as addictionary? Help is at hand. Consider this week's words as extra high doses of your daily fix. These are words that ask, "Why use a simple word when a fancy one is available?"

dactylogram

PRONUNCIATION:
(dak-TIL-uh-gram)

MEANING:
noun: A fingerprint.

NOTES:
The study of fingerprints for identification purposes is known as dactylography or dactyloscopy. Dactylonomy is the art of counting on fingers. Dactylology is finger-speech -- communicating by signs made with fingers.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek daktylos (finger or toe) + gramma (something written).

USAGE:
"The dactylogram expert confirmed that Christina's prints were found on the gun and elsewhere throughout Lombardi's apartment."
William Bernhardt; Blind Justice; Ballantine Books; 1992.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
For in reason, all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery. -Jonathan Swift, satirist (1667-1745)

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