Word of the Day

March 2012 Archive

Common Words with
Uncommon Anagrams

March 1

BOOTH => BHOOT n. a ghost, or other supernatural being, in Indian mythology

Bhoots are usually assumed to be trapped between death and a more permanent after-life as a result of some unsatisfactory ending to their life on earth.

Although bhoots often take on a human form, if you look carefully there are some giveaways. The most spooky giveaway in my opinion is the fact that their feet are back to front, with the heels facing forwards and the toes facing backwards.

While you're checking out their feet, by the way, you will probably also notice that they don't actually touch the ground, but rather float just above the surface of the earth.

About the only places I've actually come across the word bhoot 'in the wild' have been in the titles of second-rate Bollywood ghost-movies I was stuck watching in my hotel room in India a while back. Like this one...

March 2
MAHOGANY => HOGMANAY /HOG.muh.nay/ n. New Years Eve celebrations in Scotland

March 3
CONDO => CODON n. a set of three basic DNA components

March 4
STICKIES => EKISTICS n. the study of human settlements

Example: "In ekistics, the terms polis, metropolis, and megalopolis denote settlement populations of 75 thousand, 4 million, and 150 million, respectively."

What does a megalopolis look like? This...


March 5
GOLFED => FODGEL adj. plump

If you can find out more about this obscure little word, I'd love to hear from you in the comments area at the bottom of this page!

March 6
TAXORS => STORAX n. a rare tropical fragrant resin used in medicine and perfumes

Note that while Storax the plant is capitalized, storax the resin extracted from this plant is not.


Example: "In the famous Valley of the Butterflies, between June and September, millions of butterflies come to feed on the resin from the Storax trees."

Also, I made a little mistake here. You see, I intend to take all my daily words from the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (OSPD), but it turns out that although STORAX is certainly valid in the OSPD, the supposedly 'common' word TAXORS is only valid in CSW (the World English Scrabble Dictionary). Oops! Thanks to Tim Bottorff for noticing.

March 7
ALCOVE => COEVAL /koh.EE.vul/ adj. of the same age or period; n. a member of the same age or period.

Example: "In the Cordillera Blanca batholith, it is impossible to relate the granites to earlier tonalitic rocks, and there are no coeval basic rocks"

March 8
ENTIRELY => LIENTERY /LIE.uhn.ter.ee/ n. a form of diarrhea

Example: "If persons with enlarged spleen are attacked by prolonged dysentery, dropsy or lientery supervenes with fatal result."

March 9
THRICE => CITHER /SI.thur/ n. a pear shaped guitar from the Renaissance period, often known as a CITTERN

Example: "Stefan Sobell singlehandedly brought the cither back into existence in England as a popular new hybrid instrument primarily used for playing folk music."

March 10
GYMNAST => SYNTAGM /SIN.tam/ n. a related sequence of phonemes, words, or phrases

Example: "The words the+cat+sat+on+the+mat stand in syntagmatic relationship to one another and cannot be rearranged arbitrarily without losing the meaning of the sentence."

March 11
TANGO => TONGA n. a light horse-drawn cart used in India


March 12
CATTLE => TECTAL adj. pertaining to the roof of the midbrain

Example: "When an object is held stationary in the center of the receptive field of a tectal neuron in a toad and a textured background is moved for a period of time, some neurons produce a burst of discharges immediately after the movement of the background ceases."

March 13
RETRAINED => IRREDENTA /irr.i.DEN.tuh/ n. a state that is controlled politically by an historically unrelated one

Example: "The liberation of Italia irredenta was perhaps the strongest motive for Italy's entry into World War I, and the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 satisfied many irredentist claims."

March 14
MUSED => SEDUM /SEE.dum/ n. an ornamental flowering plant genus with water-storing leaves

Here is just a sampling of the 400 or so species of sedum...


March 15
DOPING => PONGID /PON.jid/ n. a member of the 'Great Apes' family, which includes gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, and bonobos.

Here's a short video that covers all four members of the pongid family...

March 16
UNBUILT => TUBULIN /TYOO.byoo.lin/ n. a group of proteins that make up microtubules in cells

Emmanuelle Soleilhac, CEA Grenoble/ iRTSV, France

March 17
CARBON => CORBAN /KOR.ban/ n. an offering to God in fulfillment of a vow

Example: "After this he (Pilate) raised another disturbance, by expending that sacred treasure, which is called corban, upon aqueducts, whereby he brought water from the distance of four hundred furlongs"

March 18
DIALOG => ALGOID adj. relating to or resembling algae

Example: "Standing with our backs to the flow, and hooking the heels of our wellies over the upstream edge of the concrete to avoid being swept away, we would slowly shuffle sideways across the weir, on our insteps, inches at a time, whilst trying desperately not to slip on the slimy algoid surface, and ignoring the splashes that made it inside our boots."

March 19
HAILING => NILGHAI /NIL.gie/ n. a large Indian antelope


This one has lots of variant spellings too: NILGAI, NILGAU, NILGHAU, NYLGHAI, and NYLGHAU.

March 20
TELEPHONE => PHENETOLE /FEN.i.tohl/ n. an oily and colorless organic compound, also known as ethyl phenyl ether
March 21
EXERTS => EXSERT /ek.SURT/ v. to protrude or thrust

Example: "The bee exserted its sting."

March 22
JITTER => TRIJET n. a plane powered by three jet engines

L1011 Rotating at EWR

March 23
AWOKEN => WEAKON n. a type of subatomic particle

I wrote a bit of background on these particles recently here.

March 24
CARTOON => CORANTO /koh.RAN.toh/ n. a lively Renaissance dance, also known as the COURANTE

If you've watched at least one 'Kings and Queens' movie set in the Renaissance period, I'm sure you'll recognize the style...

March 25
ADORED => DEODAR /DEE.oh.dar/ n. a Himalayan cedar tree

Deodar tree Cedrus deodara Pinaceae 2011_09_24 Kinnaur2_0345

March 26
INSTALLED => LANDSLEIT /LAHNTS.lite/ n. a man who lives and works on the land
March 27
HARDY => HYDRA n. a tiny freshwater creature in the same genus as jellyfishes and sea anemones

Hydra, 40x

It is named after the capitalized Hydra: a many-headed snake in Greek mythology whose heads would grow back in twice the number when severed.

The real hydra has a similarly eery quality of being able to multiply on being divided.

The term hydra is also used metaphorically to describe a manifold problem or evil that cannot be overcome with a single effort.

Example: "This predicament is a hydra, which we're going to have to tackle from multiple directions."

March 28
LIAISES => SILESIA n. a cotton fabric used for lining clothes such as tweed waist coats

Scrabble Word SILESIA

The material is named after the region of Poland, Silesia, in which it was first produced.

March 29
ALLURING => LINGULAR /LING.gyoo.lar/ n. relating to a tongue or tongue-like object

Example: "At low tide the protruding sandbank had a lingular appearance which befitted its proximity to the river's mouth."

March 30
PERSONAL => PSORALEN /SAW.ruh.len/ n. a naturally occurring chemical used to treat skin conditions

Scrabble Word PSORALEN

Psoralen occurs naturally in several common plants, including parsnips, figs, parsley and celery. It is mainly used to treat acne, psoriasis, ekzema, and vitiligo (that's the skin pigmentation disease Michael Jackson had).

The chemical works because of its tendency to increase the skin's ability to absorb light, which then does the actual healing. Unfortunately, this property of psoralen also leads to an increased chance of developing skin cancer, which prompted its ban from being used in sun tanning products in the mid 1990s.

March 31
MAGISTRATE => STERIGMATA npl. spore-bearing projections in some fungi


Well, that's it for March folks, but every month there's more...

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