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Jul 4, 2017
This week’s theme
People who became verbs

This week’s words
grimthorpe
mithridatize
penelopize
Robinson Crusoe
out-Herod

Mithridates VI on a coin
Mithridates VI on a coin
From Coins of the Ancients, 1889

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

mithridatize

PRONUNCIATION:
(MITH-ri-day-tyz)

MEANING:
verb tr.: To develop immunity to a poison by gradually increasing the dose.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Mithridates VI, king of Pontus (now in Turkey) 120-63 BCE, who is said to have acquired immunity to poison by ingesting gradually larger doses of it. Earliest documented use: 1866. The noun form is mithridatism.

NOTES:
Mithridates VI’s father was poisoned. No wonder VI wanted to develop tolerance to poison. The story goes that after VI’s defeat by Pompey, he didn’t want to be captured alive. So he tried to end his life by taking poison. That didn’t work, so he had a servant stab him with a sword.

USAGE:
“They can parry all chemical poisons by mithridatizing.”
Bernard Werber; Empire of the Ants; Bantam; 1999.

“Grandpa Socrates ... eats toxins to mithridatise himself and is having an affair with a ghost.”
Sarah Birke; Bedazzled by Gadgets; New Statesman (London, UK); Dec 11, 2006.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Most institutions demand unqualified faith; but the institution of science makes skepticism a virtue. -Robert King Merton, sociologist (4 Jul 1910-2003)

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