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Today's Word



Jul 4, 2019
This week’s theme
Whose what?

This week’s words
cat's pajamas
Zeno's paradox
Godwin's law
child's play
Plato's cave

“That was easy!”
Photo: Joe Popp

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with Anu Garg

child’s play

(CHYLDZ play)

noun: Something trivial; a task easily accomplished.

From child, from Old English cild + play, from Old English plega. Ultimately from the Indo-European root dlegh- (to engage oneself), which also gave us pledge, plight, and indulge. Earliest documented use: 1275.

“Mars -- different in almost all respects from Earth -- is nonetheless the closest thing to a sister planet, at least one close-by. But close is a relative term. Our elliptical orbits are such that we come as close as 34 million miles to each other and as far as 250 million. A rocket leaving Earth for Mars has a choice of many possible paths, but the most economical in terms of fuel is called a Hohmann transfer and takes between six and nine months one way. Our two orbits are such, however, that a crew arriving at Mars from a Hohmann would have to wait a year or more for a favorable return alignment. Therefore, a round trip would take more than two years. Compared with Apollo’s eight days, that is huge, and creates a host of new issues. All in all, Apollo was child’s play compared to a Mars landing.”
Michael Collins; Excerpted from the Preface to the 2019 edition of “Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys”; Natural History (New York); Jul/Aug 2019.

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

Human nature will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil. My children have had other birthplaces, and, so far as their fortunes may be within my control, shall strike their roots into unaccustomed earth. -Nathaniel Hawthorne, writer (4 Jul 1804-1864)

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