This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Word To Use Today: triton.

Here's a fine clear-sounding and hard-working word:


I first came across this word in dear old Wordsworth's sonnet, which mentions Triton blowing on his wreathed horn. This Triton was the son of the sea god Posiedon and Amphitrite, and he's a merman who, as noted above, is seldom seen without a horn (the musical kind) made out of a conch shell.


The largest of Neptune's moons is called after him. 

It says in my Collins dictionary that triton is also the name of a class of minor sea deities. Good grief. I'm glad I'm not the teacher in charge of that lot.

Triton sounds as if should be something to do with three, and in physics it is: it's a nucleus of an atom of Tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen. It contains two neutrons and one proton and you find tiny traces of it in natural hydrogen, and lots in a nuclear reactor.

Lastly, a triton is one of these:

Oregon triton shell - click to see all waterlife symbols 

Yes, it's a sort of mollusc. Most tritons live in the tropics, but that picture is of the shell of a rather beautifully named hairy triton. It's the state shell of Oregon.

Word To Use Today: triton. The word for the shell comes from the Greek word trit┼Źn.  

Hint for use: raining? I just saw flipping Triton swim past the window!


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