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On March 14, Wordsmith.org completes 12 years of spreading the magic of words, so let's talk about the number twelve.

Twelve is a magical number. It's divisible by two, three, four, and six. There are twelve months in a year, twelve hours on a clock, twelve signs of the zodiac, twelve tones in the musical scale, and twelve in a dozen, twelve inches in a foot, twelve Knights of the Round Table, twelve members in a jury (usually), twelve labors of Hercules... twelve must have something going for it.

We use the decimal system because there are ten fingers on our hands. But we might as well have used a duodecimal system: there are twelve phalanges on our four fingers (thumb used as an indicator). In fact, some cultures do use duodecimal systems. One can find a Dozenal Society that advocates use of duodecimal system in the US and in other countries.

This week we'll explore a few words related to the number 12.

duodecennial (doo-uh-di-SEN-ee-uhl, dyoo-) noun

A twelfth anniversary.


Of or pertaining to a period of twelve years.

[From Latin duodecennium (a period of twelve years), from duodecim (twelve) + annus (year).]

-Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)

"The duodecennial cycle of Kumbha melas is probably recent." Ved Prakash Mehta; Portrait of India; Farrar Straus & Giroux; 1970.


We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer, theologian and writer (1906-1945)

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