This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Nuts and Bolts: Orth & Orth.

I like the sound of Orth & Orth; they sound like a firm of troll plumbers.*

You find orth quite a lot at the beginning of words. It tends to mean either straight and upright or, as an extension of this, correct.

Orthography, for instance is correct spelling, and orthodontics is about correcting the alignment of the teeth. 

Orthoepy is a study of correct pronunciation (good luck with that one).

As I say, there are quite a lot of these words, and, delightfully, there's at least one rogue: an orthopter is nothing to do with having straight or correct wings (the pter bit is to do with wings, as in pterodactyl) but is a heavier-than-air craft that flies with the help of flapping ones.

(Orthopter is short for ornithopter, the ornith bit being to do with the Greek ornis, a bird.)

I'd say that orthopter was the exception that proves the rule, except that exceptions of that sort do not prove rules at all.

Still, it's a nice anomaly, all the same.

Word To Use Today: one that starts with orth. The Greek orthos means straight, right, or upright.

*By troll plumbers I mean trolls who are plumbers, not people who plumb in trolls: as far as I know trolls don't generally require any such service.

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