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Has a short quotation you read somewhere ever made you think more than you would have thought after spending several weeks with a heavy tome? Perhaps that's what Friedrich Nietzsche had in mind when he said, "It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book." In this spirit, this week we feature five short yet potent words.

erg (urg) noun

The unit of work or energy in the centimeter-gram-second system.

[From Greek ergon (work). Ultimately from Indo-European root werg- (to do) which gave us ergonomic, work, energy, metallurgy, surgery, wright, and orgy.]

erg (erg) noun

A large area of land covered with shifting sand. Also known as a sand sea.

[From Arabic.]

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

"Every available erg of waste heat from operating machinery will be used to warm living quarters. In all, it may save 150,000 gallons of fuel every year."
Robert Lee Hotz; Last Journey To The Last Place On Earth: At the South Pole, Nothing Can Grow Except the Spirit; The Los Angeles Times; Jun 8, 2001.

"A day later we reached Tumbain, a flat table mountain from whose top you look out on the infinity of the erg. The solitude of the place was awesome."
John Eisenhammer; Led by Wise Men; The Independent (London, UK); Dec 21, 1996.


The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book. -Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784)


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