Words (and concepts) of the day

Three fun new things to cross my desk recently. Sometimes you can go days without learning any new words, and then sometimes there will be a flood.

1) Reuleaux triangles

A query arose in a game playing household about some game tokens, that looked almost but not exactly like plectrums. Puffy over-inflated equilateral triangles. Turns out they have some interesting mathematical properties, including about how they roll, and that if you make manhole covers this shape, the removed cover does not fall into the hole left behind.

The thing I found most interesting was that Reuleaux triangles are part of a series of mathematical shapes called Reuleaux polygons, and the shapes with seven sides are the shapes that are better known in the UK as 50p and 20p coins.

There are also Reuleaux tetrahedrons that are like puffy, round edged pyramids.

2) Obliquity

Now here’s an interesting word. in astronomy it describes a relationship between a planet’s north poll and its equator. Or something. But it came up in a meeting in a more social sciences context and it turns out it’s a book. The idea is that instead of being too goal-oriented, you can achieve what you want by taking an indirect route. Presumably there’s a personal goals angle there, and a few linked thoughts about personal productivity. But there’s also a research aspect. What do you find out on the way from A -> B? Sometimes C and D turn out to be the more useful research goals.

Clearly obliquity is related to oblique, a type of angle we learned about in secondary trigonometry. I thought it was a specific one like obtuse or reflex, but apparently it’s just one that is not a right angle. The wikipedia page for angles gets very heavy very quickly and there’s not a lot on the page I can easily get my head around.

NB obloquy is something else entirely. It’s a fancy word for abusive language.

3) Chthonic

What an amazing word. Are there any other with a chth right next to each other? It comes from the Greek, who apparently have no difficulty putting chi and theta next to each other without a vowel in between. Ooh, there’s also autochthonous – a synonym for indigenous. A Scrabble word finder has a list of 70 -CHTH- words including ichthic, which I think means fishy, although ichthyic is more common.

Chthonic means pertaining to the underworld.

It came to mind because my vegan friend is in the middle of a project of blogging every day and has a chosen to run each post under a new word ending -ic. (Apart from the first, where she sets out the laudable aim of commenting on others’ blogs pour encourager les autres)

Let’s end with a recipe: chocolate chip orange cookies. Easily vegan but doesn’t have to be if you prefer milk chocolate.

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French word of the day

My (French) car started coming up with a weird error message the day after its annual service:

PLIP BATTERY SPENT

I had no idea what it meant and groaned inwardly that it started happening the day after a service.

Was PLIP an acronym for something weird hidden within the car?

A quick google to find out what it means takes me down a linguistic voyage of discovery.

Apparently, un plip is the onomatopoeic French word for remote key fob. Makes the English word seem staid by comparison.

Unhelpfully the car’s manual suggests that the replacement size of battery is one that doesn’t appear to exist – CR0523?? For now I will resort to using the spare key – a bit of a novelty given this is the first car I’ve ever owned that has a spare key!