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When you see someone sporting a shirt with the manufacturer's name inscribed in bold letters across the chest, it's hard to ignore the irony. The wearer is paying the company to promote its name, rather than vice versa. For the privilege of being a walking billboard, the purchaser may have paid many times the normal price of that product.

So next time you wear a pair of shoes with that logo, or a pair of pants with some large initials stitched on them, or a shirt with a brightly painted name, remember, you're inadvertently advertising the company. The word "advertise" comes to us from Latin advertere meaning "to turn toward" or "to pay attention". The word "inadvertently" derives from the same source. In other words, by not paying attention, we ARE paying attention.

Do you ever wonder about the meaning of all those company names on billboards, taxis, supermarket floors, movies, clothing, even in your children's school books? While some of these are coined names (Sony, Novartis, Intel), many of them are bona fide words from the dictionary. This week we feature five such words. And no, none of them is an AWAD sponsor.

cingular (SING-gyuh-luhr) adjective

1. Of or pertaining to a cingulum, an anatomical band or girdle on an animal or plant.

2. Encircling, girdling, surrounding.

[From Latin cingulum (girdle), from cingere (to gird). Other words derived from the same root are cincture, precinct, shingles, and succinct.]

"Differs ... in the greater degree of cingular development on cheek teeth, especially molars." Daniel L Gebo, et al; A Hominoid Genus; Science (Washington, DC); Apr 18, 1997.


Like cars in amusement parks, our direction is often determined through collisions. -Yahia Lababidi, writer (b. 1973)

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