Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Word of the Day 7/13/2010

Autochthonous (adjective)
1 : indigenous, native
*2 : formed or originating in the place where found

Example Sentence: "People tend to admire cultural forms that seem autochthonous, sprung from their native soil." (Stephen Greenblatt, Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2005)

Did you know?: Ancient Athenians considered their ancestors the primordial inhabitants of their land, as if sprung from the very soil of the region they inhabited. Their word for any true-born Athenian, "autochth┼Źn," itself springs from "auto-," meaning "self," and "chth┼Źn," meaning "earth." Nowadays, the English adjective "autochthonous" is often used in somewhat meaty scientific or anthropological writing (as in "several autochthonous cases of fever broke out in the region"), but it was a "bready" context in which it made its debut. Observed English literary critic William Taylor in 1805: "The English have this great predilection for autochthonous bread and butter" (rather than French bread, one might safely presume).

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.

Merriam-Webster Word of the Day

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