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A.Word.A.Day--speculum

(SPEK-yoo-luhm) Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

This week's theme: Words that have many unrelated meanings

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.]

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

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

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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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