“Orthotopic” or “orthotopal”

An n-orthotope is a fancy name for an n-dimensional cube. I’d like to describe an object that has this quality. Which is the correct adjective: orthotopic or orthotopal? Answer There is a similar word polytope used in mathematics, and it seems you should use the same adjectival form for polytope and orthotope. Looking at the … Read more

If we say “Socrates”, “Hippocrates”, etc, why don’t we say “Aristoteles”? Why “Aristotle”?

If Σωκράτης is transliterated as “Socrates“, and Ἱπποκράτης is transliterated as “Hippocrates“, and other Greek names ending with -ης are transliterated as ending with “-es”, why isn’t Ἀριστοτέλης transliterated “Aristoteles” instead of “Aristotle“? Answer Aristotle is the anglicized form of the the transliterated Aristoteles. According to this article on historical personal names, at one point … Read more

What is the opposite of “meta”?

A while back I was talking about it with friends. Another question indicates a few meanings of the “meta-” prefix. Considering that “meta” means, in simple words, “about itself” (like how metadata is data about data), what would be the appropriate prefix to mean the opposite relationship? It seemed to us that “meta” raised a … Read more

“Oestrogen” and “oesophagus” — why are they spelled differently in British English?

Within Biology, there are some biological terms that differ in spelling between the British English and American English dictionaries. For example, oestrogen and oesophagus, as well as the word oestriol are all spelled differently in British English dictionaries. Is there anything in particular that makes this so? Answer The word oestrogen comes from the Latin … Read more

“-phile” word for someone who loves frogs

What would the best word be to describe a frog-lover that ends with the -phile root? Answer The word for the fear of frogs is batrachophobia, although Wikipedia suggests it is ranidaphobia. However, the suffix -phile is Greek, and there is a “rule” that the components for such a word should all be from the … Read more

Diaconate vs. Deacon

A plurality of deacons is called a diaconate. What is the reason for this vowel change (“e” to “i”) for these words? Are there any other words that illustrate this? Answer The word deacon is an anglicization of the borrowed Latin word diacon (which itself was originally Greek), so the vowel change is the other … Read more

What is the correct plural of “octopus”?

What is the correct plural of octopus: Octopi? Octopodes? Octopuses? Something else? Answer I would go with octopuses. That is part of the Wikipedia “Plural form of words ending in -us” article: Currently: octopuses is the most common form in the UK as well as the US; octopodes is rare, and octopi is often objectionable. … Read more