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A.Word.A.Day--speculum

Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

This week's theme: words that have many unrelated meanings.

speculum (SPEK-yoo-luhm) noun

1. A mirror used as a reflector in an optical instrument, such as a telescope.

2. Speculum metal: any of various alloys of copper and tin used in making mirrors.

3. An instrument for holding open a body cavity for medical examination.

4. A bright patch of color on the wings of certain birds, for example ducks.

[From Latin speculum (mirror), from specere (to look at), ultimately from the Indo-European root spek- (to observe) which is also the root of such words as suspect, spectrum, bishop (literally, overseer), espionage, despise, telescope, and spectacles.]

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

-Anu Garg (garg wordsmith.org)

"The beautiful green speculum on the wings is common to both sexes." Charles Darwin; Descent Of Man; 1871.

X-Bonus

Every man feels instinctively that all the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action. -James Russell Lowell, poet, editor, and diplomat (1819-1891)

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