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Aug 18, 2020
This week’s theme
This pandemic in five words

This week’s words
zoonosis
fomites
asymptomatic
Typhoid Mary
vaccinate

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

fomites

PRONUNCIATION:
(FOM-uh-teez, FOH-myts)

MEANING:
noun: Any inanimate object, such as a book, money, a carpet, etc., that can transmit germs from one person to another.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin fomites, plural of fomes (touchwood, tinder), from fovere (to warm). Earliest documented use: 1803.

NOTES:
The word fomites is a plural of fomes, but the s at the end of the word led people to assume it’s a plural of fomite and coin a new singular: fomite (FOH-myt). Some would say that the back-formation fomite is in error, but many words are formed from similar mistaken assumptions: cherry, from the already singular cherise, pea from the already singular pease, for example. The word fomites is often used as a singular nowadays, similar to other technically plural words such as agenda or errata.
All this should be the least of our worries right now. Don’t be a walking fomites. Wear your mask when away from home.

USAGE:
“Fomites were recognized back in 1763 when the British military sent blankets that were infested with smallpox to Indians, who contracted the disease from the blankets, many dying from the ensuing epidemic.”
Frederick Ross; A Deadly Thaw; FriesenPress; 2018.

See more usage examples of fomites in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
I've never been married, but I tell people I'm divorced so they won't think something's wrong with me. -Elayne Boosler, comedian (b. 18 Aug 1952)

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