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May 14, 2018
This week’s theme
Words made with combining forms

This week’s words
megalomania
leptodermous
saprogenic
ectogenous
carcinogenic

megalomania
Image: Rasulovs/iStock

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

“Take two and call me in the morning.” That could be a good advice in lots of situations.

Let’s say you’re looking for a word to describe something. Perhaps you can take two words and combine them to build a new word. For example, you want to describe a president who has delusions of grandeur. You pick up two building blocks, such as megalo- (large) + -mania (craze), and there you have your megalomaniac.

What are combining forms? You can think of them as Lego (from Danish, leg: play + godt: well) bricks of language. As the term indicates, a combining form is a linguistic atom that occurs only in combination with some other form which could be a word, another combining form, or an affix (unlike a combining form, an affix can’t attach to another affix).

This week we’ll look at five words that are made using these combining forms:
megal- (large), lepto- (thin), sapro- (rotten), ecto- (outside), carcino- (cancer)
and
-mania (excessive enthusiasm or craze), -dermous (skin), -genic/genous (producing).

megalomania

PRONUNCIATION:
(meg-uh-lo-MAY-nee-uh)

MEANING:
noun: A mental illness characterized by delusional fantasies of greatness, wealth, power, etc.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek megal- (large, great) + Latin -mania (excessive enthusiasm or craze). Earliest documented use: 1885.

USAGE:
“‘We are taking over the world of yoga.’ At the graduation day for 500 Startups, a school for entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, such statements of focused megalomania are the norm. ‘We will own this space,’ predicts the founder of a company.”
Everybody Wants to Rule the World; The Economist (London, UK); Nov 27, 2014.

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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Although a democracy must often fight with one hand tied behind its back, it nonetheless has the upper hand. -Aharon Barak, law professor, former President of the Supreme Court of Israel (b. 1936)

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