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Today's Word

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Jul 23, 2001
This week's theme
Less-known counterparts of everyday words

This week's words

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Author and humorist Mark Twain once observed, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." Open a newspaper or magazine and chances are you'll read about the frightening "epidemic" of mad cow disease. Of course, it is we who are mad when we feed these herbivore animals body parts of other animals, including other cows, but I digress. With today's word we know the right term to use when it comes to an animal disease. The root dem(os) in the word epidemic, meaning 'people' is the same root that gave us the word democracy. Here are two other words with their animal equivalents: endemic/enzootic and demography/zoography.

In this week's AWAD, we'll look at some other less-known counterparts of everyday words.


Pronunciation RealAudio

epizootic (ep-uh-zo-OT-ik) adjective

Spreading quickly among many animals.


Such a disease.

[French epizootique, from epi- + Greek zoion animal.]

"Nor can today's oldest oldster recall the `great epizootic' of 1872. This was a flulike disease that killed at least 20,000 horse-car horses in the nation. When the epizootic quit killing horses, inventive Americans sought new pulling power."
Jack Goodman; 'Broadway Battleship's' Brief Run in New York; The Salt Lake Tribune (Utah); Jun 27, 1999.

"Said Dr. Anthony Iton, director of health and social services for Stamford. 'We have window screens. We spend more time indoors. What that taught us was you can have a relatively intense epizootic in birds and mosquitoes and not have a human epidemic. Because of our behaviors, we protect ourselves from mosquitoes.'"
Christine Woodside; Mosquitoes? Sure. Spraying? Unclearl The New York Timesl May 27, 2001.


Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night. -Edgar Allan Poe, poet and short-story writer (1809-1849)

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