Monday, September 27, 2010

Word of the Day 9/27/2010

Rectilinear (adjective)

1: moving in or forming a straight line
2: characterized by straight lines

Examples: Maps of rectilinear states like Colorado and Utah are much easier to draw freehand than those of states with jagged outlines.

"The four-story structure extends the original 1907 Beaux Arts building's low profile but dispenses with the neo-Classical columns, capitals, entablatures and whatnot in favor of severe, rectilinear blocks: a central glass atrium -- 12,184 square feet under a 63-foot ceiling -- flanked by granite and glass pavilions containing 53 galleries." -- From an article by Ken Johnson in The New York Times, September 12, 2010

Did You Know?: Today’s word has a straightforward line of descent. It comes from the Late Latin "rectilineus," which itself comes from the Latin words "rectus" ("straight") and "linea" ("line"). A lesser-known variant, "rectilineal," derives from the same Late Latin "rectilineus" and employs the "-al" suffix rather than "-ar." The grammarian H. W. Fowler dictated in 1926 that "there is no objection to either [variant] in itself, but '-ar' is so much commoner that, as there is no difference of meaning, '-al' should be abandoned as a needless variant." "Rectilineal" still turns up occasionally in spite of the redundancy, but "rectilinear" is by far the more common choice.

Merriam-Webster Word of the Day

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